Responding to a surprise N.C. House vote to override his budget veto, Gov. Roy Cooper excoriated legislative Republicans for using what he called a “bald faced lie” to break a legislative stalemate that has dragged on since June.
“For over two months Democrats missed family events, work and even medical appointments to show up at every session just in case a veto override was suddenly brought up,” Cooper said in a press conference Wednesday.
Democratic lawmakers failed to show up in significant numbers on Wednesday morning, leading to a 55-9 override vote. Cooper said that’s because they “relied on the word of Republican leaders” that there would be no vote — a guarantee Cooper said should have been honored.
“Because that’s how a true, functioning democracy should operate,” Cooper said.
N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) denied Cooper’s charges, as did Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) who presided over the House on Tuesday.
“I made a public announcement from the chair that there would be recorded votes today,” Lewis said. “In fact, I announced twice that there would be recorded votes today. I asked twice if there was objection to placing two budget bills…on the calendar to be considered today. There was no objection.”
Lewis said he heard Wednesday Democrats in the House hadn’t shown up to the session because they were busy preparing new legislative maps in the ongoing redistricting dispute — which, he said, may be in violation of a court order.
Democratic lawmakers maintain they were told no votes would be held and decried what they called an unacceptable deception.
“It’s a subversion of the Democratic process,” said Rep. Deb Butler (D-Brunswick). There’s a reason people say North Carolinais a place of scorched earth politics. Because we don’t believe in winning on the merits, we like playing games and lie and cheat and misdirect.”
“When you make a representation to the leader of our party and you tell him specifically from the well of the chamber there will be no votes, that should be a fundamental representation upon which we can rely,” Butler said.
Asked if Democrats could trust their Republican colleagues going forward, Butler said, “I damn sure won’t. I didn’t this time.”
Butler was one of the few Democrats on the House floor Wednesday morning and was asked to leave after she refused to stop speaking from the floor against the Republican move.
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) called the surprise vote a fundamental violation of the necessary trust lawmakers have to have in one another.
“They lied to us,” Harrison said. “If you can’t trust what you are told by leadership on something like a vote, we may as well pack it up and go home.”
Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) echoed that sentiment.
“We function here with a degree of trust and mutual respect, even though we may be staunch adversaries,” McKissick said. “It appears today that trust was compromised.”
McKissick and Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg) both said they believed the state Senate would be able to sustain the governor’s veto. The chamber is scheduled to return to session today at 4:00 p.m. A three-fifths vote is necessary for an override. Republicans hold a 29-21 advantage in the chamber.
“At this point, I think we’ll be able to sustain the vetoes,” McKissick said. “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].”
“We’re just going to have to be on our A-game,” he said
The following video of Cooper’s presentation comes from coverage provided by WRAL.com