On Sept. 11, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representative voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget after months of stalemate between Cooper and Republican state legislators. Out of the 120 members of the state House, just over half were present to cast their votes.
Democrats in the state House had been told that there would be no votes during the 8:30 a.m. session, as the session was just a formality so the body could begin work. Instead, many Democrats were at 9/11 memorial events across the state.
However, Rep. Jason Saine of Lincolnton made a motion to reconsider the state budget. The House can function as long as it has a quorum present: at least 61 lawmakers. The state House, and the state Senate, need a three-fifths majority of members present and voting for a veto override. 67 lawmakers were present, and only 40 votes were needed for an override.
The veto override passed 55-9.
Later, Democrats who were present, but unable to vote, had their votes recorded as “no.” House Democrats were outraged, claiming that they had been duped into thinking no vote would occur.
State House Speaker, Republican Tim Moore said that he decided whether votes will be called.
“When I say that there are no votes that are going to happen, there are no votes that are going to happen,” said Moore in the News and Observer. “If I do see an opportunity to carry the will of the majority of the House and see this veto overridden, I will do so.”
An outcry of responses from Democrats came immediately after news of the vote spread, and the veto drew national attention.
“This is a travesty of the process and you know it,” said Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, a Democrat present for the vote, shouting when the vote was called. Butler also noted that Democratic leadership was not present. She continued, “We will not yield.”
A few hours after the surprise vote, Cooper held a press conference, calling the Republicans’ actions “an assault on our Democracy.”
“Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive, surprise override of my budget veto,” said Cooper.
“On a day when tragedy united our country, we should be standing together despite party,” said Cooper. However, “the Republican caucus was laying in wait, ready for this…I have never seen anything like this in my 30-plus years in state government.”
On MSNBC, Cooper condemned the House Republicans, claiming that the vote was “illegal” and “unethical.”
He said in an interview with MSNBC that Republicans were elected in, “illegally gerrymandered districts,” drawn to enhance partisanship.
“…I think it is the last gasp of a dying majority here,” said Cooper on MSNBC. “And every single one of those House members and state senators are going to be up for election next year along with me running for re-election for governor. And there will be a judgment day in North Carolina.”