Pension reform: does the examination of thousands of opposition amendments cost 1.5 million euros per day, as an LREM deputy claims?

Pension reform: does the examination of thousands of opposition amendments cost 1.5 million euros per day, as an LREM deputy claims?

Forced to examine 40,000 amendments, the majority criticizes a “parliamentary obstruction” which would cost the taxpayer dearly. In theory, this calculation is correct.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, president of the group La France insoumise, speaks on the pension reform bill at the National Assembly, February 19, 2020 (ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

A rain of amendments and sub-amendments fell on the National Assembly. Since Monday, February 17, the deputies have been examining the pension reform bill. To express their disagreement, the opposition tabled more than 40,000 amendments, including 56% by La France insoumise and 32% by the group of the Democratic and Republican Left. A technique of“Parliamentary obstruction”, believes the presidential majority.

On Twitter, the first quaestor of the National Assembly, Florian Bachelier, affirms that a day of examination of these amendments and sub-amendments costs 1.5 million euros to the State. His colleague from La République en Marche, Jean-René Cazeneuve, quoted in his message, said at the meeting that it would be necessary “20 years of debate night and day ” to come to the end of parliamentary work.

A theoretically fair daily cost

Contacted by franceinfo, Florian Bachelier, deputy ofIlle-et-Vilaine, explains being based on the annual budget of the Assembly – “550 million euros”, according to him – to arrive at his estimate. The total budgetary expenditure decided for the year 2020 amounts, after verification, to nearly 568 million euros, including a forecast deficit of 48 million euros. Per day, the cost of a day of parliamentary work would therefore amount to around 1.5 million euros.

But Brice Lacourieux, parliamentary collaborator and blogger for The world, moderates this calculation which only constitutes an average without taking into account the nature of each operating load.

Communist deputy Pierre Dharréville, however, sees it only as an easy criticism of parliamentary work: These are not serious arguments [et] I would like La République en Marche to have the same precision on the costing of its reform, but this is far from being the case. ”

Years to consider all the amendments

As for the twenty years of examination “day and night” of the bill put forward by Jean-René Cazeneuve, the calculation is more complex. Asked by franceinfo, the elected representative of the Gers explains having multiplied the 40,000 amendments tabled so far by 40, i.e. the theoretical number of sub-amendments tabled by amendment “According to the rhythm [du 20 février] – this estimate could not be verified. Considering that 2 minutes of examination are necessary per sub-amendment, “le strict minimum”, according to the MP for the majority, and based on eight-hour working days, it would therefore theoretically take more than 18 years to study the entire text.

Brice Lacourieux also points to the stagnation in the number of amendments to be dealt with. Recalling the estimate of “150 days” given Thursday, February 20 by the President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand, he notes that “The number of amendments that remain to be dealt with changes very little” due to the continual addition of subamendments to the bill by the opposition. “So potentially it can last an infinite time”, he notes.

Towards a use of article 49.3?

The elected Communist Pierre Dharréville defends himself: “We are doing our job as parliamentarians. (…) We have a lot of questions to ask, a lot of things to say about this bad project [de loi]. And the deputy to accuse the government, “from the beginning”, not to want “discuss”. He mentions in particular the interruption of the work of the special committee and the reduction in the speaking time of parliamentarians.

However, a majority of duplicates constitutes the bulk of these amendments: 76% of them are even texts repeated 15 times or more, even though the elected official told franceinfo to use this technique. “the least possible”. However, he does not hide their usefulness: “To put forward a certain number of our ideas and our proposals, we need a lot of speaking time (…) to produce arguments, ask questions, make substantive interventions which otherwise cannot take place. is also the function of an amendment ”, justifies Pierre Dharréville.

For Jean-René Cazeneuve, “The amendments [de l’opposition] are cans ”. And the deputies of the left “Do not comment on the amendment, they are talking about funding, retired women, firefighters, but not the amendment”. “Our wish is to go to the end of the debate, to spend the necessary time there, but it must be a constructive debate., claims the elected of the majority. But faced with the remaining hours of examination of the bill, the use of 49.3 by the government “Seems inevitable”, supposes Brice Lacourieux: as the site of the National Assembly explains, the work remains for the moment focused on… the first article.