Of course, the bill has passed, but the final version, very amputated, of this first text of the legislature already illustrates the difficulty of maneuvering for the government and the relative majority it has in the National Assembly.
After another chaotic session, the text examined at first reading at the Palais-Bourbon was adopted, on the night of Tuesday July 12 to Wednesday July 13, by 221 votes against 187 and 24 abstentions in the final vote. He must now go to the Senate.
The new Minister of Health, François Braun, concluded laconically “to take note” of the discussions punctuated by multiple negotiations and suspensions of the session. He assured that he would work to restore this text in its entirety during the rest of the legislative process.
The debates, which began on Monday, and which resumed late Tuesday afternoon, were marred by tensions, heckling and unforeseen reversals of majority according to the articles and amendments.
End of the state of health emergency
In the opposition, the multiple votes on the articles and amendments showed resolute hostility from the National Rally (RN) and most left-wing groups (La France insoumise, communists, ecologists). But the Socialists have often been absent from the Hemicycle or have taken refuge in abstention, the Republicans (LR) showing themselves sometimes divided.
“Long, tedious, instructive debates on the reality of political balances and forces in the Hemicycle”, summarized the deputy (LR) of Haut-Rhin Raphaël Schellenberger at the end of the session. His colleague from Saône-et-Loire Rémy Rebeyrotte (Renaissance, formerly La République en Marche) lamented a “football match atmosphere”, while France has just passed the bar of 150,000 deaths from Covid-19.
The bill confirms the expiry, on July 31 at midnight, of the “exorbitant common law” framework of the state of health emergency and the crisis management regime put in place at the end of May 2021. It is ” the extinction of the legal regime of the state of health emergency “and of the” health and vaccination pass in the daily life of the French “, underlined, Monday, François Braun.
Sanitary pass for underage travelers rejected
But article 2 of this “watch and health security” bill was rejected at the end of the evening by 219 votes against 195, thanks to a combination of votes from the RN, LR and a majority of the Nupes left alliance. It provided for the possibility, if necessary, of reinstating the health pass for “extra-hexagonal” travel, to or from abroad. A provision allowing it to be required for underage travelers had been rejected a little earlier.
Anxious to spare part of the opposition, the government and its majority had nevertheless granted some inflections requested on the LR and socialist benches concerning the overseas territories. The preliminary work in committee also saw the government agree to a January 31 deadline for the bill’s measures, instead of the March 31 planned in the original version.
The text is now essentially reduced to its first article, which allows, due to a still fragile epidemic situation, to continue to collect health data on screening tests (SI-DEP system). Two other remaining articles, on the modalities of a parliamentary follow-up, have been merged into one.
“This text, at the end of the debate, no longer looks like much,” said North MP (RN) Sébastien Chenu. The elected RN, LR and leftists have throughout the debates multiplied the attacks against the refusal of the government to reinstate the caregivers suspended due to a refusal to be vaccinated. The deputy (LR) of Lot Aurélien Pradié once again called for this reinstatement “to restore harmony in our society”. The “rebellious” Elisa Martin (Isère) castigated in these suspensions “an unprecedented and absurd abuse of power”.