NC House votes to override Cooper's budget veto
The months-long stalemate in Raleigh over the state budget changed in dramatic fashion Wednesday morning as House Republicans voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
HB966, the 2019 Appropriations Act, passed both the NC House and Senate with bipartisan support in late June, but Cooper vetoed it on June 28, citing his disagreement with the budget’s priorities and the lack of action on Medicaid expansion.
Since that veto, House Republicans have been waiting for an opportunity to attempt a veto override vote. Tuesday morning, with 55 Republican representatives and only fifteen Democratic representatives present, House speaker Rep. Tim Moore called for the vote. The override motion passed by a 55-15 margin.
Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir), who is Freshman Majority Whip for the Republican caucus, said the vote was not planned in advance.
“The Speaker has said consistently that when we have an opportunity to override the veto, we are going to take that opportunity. There was no set schedule,” Humphrey said.
House Democrats held a press conference where they condemned the Republican tactics, with House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) telling reporters that House Rules Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett) told him no votes would be held during the 8:30 a.m. session Wednesday morning, leading to only fifteen Democratic representatives being present in the chamber when the Speaker called the vote.
Cooper also strongly criticized the move, calling it a “deceptive stunt” during a press conference.
Humphrey told Neuse News that whenever a “no-vote” session has been scheduled during the nearly three month budget standoff, the Speaker’s office has sent out an email or otherwise announced to all members of the legislature informing them of that.
“That [an announcement of a no-vote session] was never communicated about this morning’s session. And had [the vote] been planned, I would have been notified, as a Whip, and I was never notified,” Humphrey said.
House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) was not present for the vote, as he is currently traveling out of state. Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) voted for the override.
The House vote now puts the spotlight on the Senate, where the governor’s veto will also have to be overridden to make the budget official. Republicans in the Senate need only one Democratic vote, assuming all members are present, in order to gain the required three-fifths majority to override.
A vote in the Senate could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.