We will remember a lot of things about this day.
We’ll remember how North Carolina’s Democratic state House representation — a large majority of which was missing Wednesday morning, at least one attending a 9/11 memorial — finally disintegrated in fury when Republicans held a stunning vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto.
We’ll remember the House Democratic Leader, Wake County’s Darren Jackson, repeating his assertion that Republicans told Democrats there would be no votes Wednesday.
We’ll remember how Raleigh’s political media, a chronically jaded group, frantically scrambled to make sense of things.
— Colin Campbell (@RaleighReporter) September 11, 2019
We’ll remember an apoplectic Deb Butler, one of the few Democrats on the floor, decrying the vote as legislative staffers sought, to no avail, to calm her. “How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker?” Butler shouted at Speaker Tim Moore. “I will not yield!” (See the video at the bottom of this post, taken by Rep. John Autry.)
And we’ll remember Tim Moore and Rep. David Lewis, men who’ve deceived and manipulated North Carolinians before, gas-lighting the minority party.
“There absolutely was no announcement that there would be no vote this morning,” Moore assured us, imploring us to trust him.
Trust is gone. This group does not deserve it. To trust the leadership of the N.C. General Assembly any more is lunacy.
What can be trusted is that, if the opportunity presents itself,
if a hurricane relief session lends sufficient cover to undercut the governor’s authority,
if writing a multi-billion dollar budget in secret quashes dissent,
if a parliamentary maneuver jettisons minority party input altogether,
if unfounded transphobia fuels an omnibus discrimination bill like HB2,
the leaders of the N.C. General Assembly will take that opportunity. These leaders do not just look a gift horse in the mouth, they put their entire head in the beast’s jaws.
With courts wondering whether the actions of an unconstitutionally obtained majority can be constitutional, Wednesday’s vote is more fodder. Indeed, the votes of a false majority should not be considered untouchable, sacred, by the law. This legislature makes the state’s laws today, but it does not make the state’s constitution.
Democrats will seek to hold Cooper’s budget veto on the floor of the Senate, although the margin there is far more narrow than it was in the state House. Meanwhile, Cooper canceled a planned trip to Scotland County to hold a noon press conference on the legislature’s actions.
The vote might deal an almost fatal blow to Cooper’s chances of forcing action from the legislature on Medicaid expansion, an idea that has never had a fair moment in the General Assembly.
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, told Policy Watch Wednesday that he believes Cooper’s veto will endure, at least through the day.
Sen Floyd McKissick on veto overrides: “At this point, I think we’ll be able to sustain the vetoes. It’s all a numbers game. I wouldn’t want to do a head count personally, but I know we’re down one member and they’re down one member [in the Senate].” #NCPol
— JoekillianPW (@JoekillianPW) September 11, 2019
That may be, but one thing that will not endure is faith in the legislative leadership, in the prospect that lawmakers like Moore can be counted on to act in a way that any of us would expect our neighbors to act.
Faith was already damaged beyond measure, not simply in North Carolina, but beyond our borders.
It may be hard to find any trace of it after today.