N.C. House overrides Cooper veto of state budget in ‘unexpected’ morning vote

Updated: Sep. 11, 2019 at 1:30 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - In an unexpected morning vote Wednesday, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives pushed through an override of Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.

State Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover/Brunswick) strongly protested the move with a speech that led a man to turn off her microphone. When she could not keep the microphone on, Butler shouted at House Speaker Tim Moore for “usurping” the process.

“We have been on this floor, without fail, for months at the expense of the public!” she said. “How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker!"

After it being communicated by the Rules Chair there would be no votes. The veto override.

Posted by John Autry on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

According to social media accounts held by several Democratic members of the state house, some of those members were attending services remembering the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks at the time of the vote, and Butler said one or two were at doctors’ appointments.

Gov. Cooper held a press conference at noon on today’s budget action. Click here to watch: http://bit.ly/32HRn21

Cooper vetoed the budget passed by the General Assembly at the end of June, citing its lack of Medicaid expansion, among other things.

State Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), voted “yes” on both veto overrides, saying Butler’s outburst was “out of order and lacked decorum.” She sent WECT the following statement in response to this morning’s news:

“I was present at the session that convened at 8:30 a.m. this morning. There were bills calendared to be voted on. Two of the bills were removed from House Rules during yesterday’s session and added with no objections from the body to today’s calendar. There was no announcement that there would be no votes during this mornings session. Usually if it is a no-vote session it is announced during the session prior."

Grange also said she felt Butler’s response was too much.

“I felt it was out of order and lacked decorum.”

WECT talked with Butler early Wednesday afternoon ahead of her committee meetings and an additional vote about the situation that transpired on the house floor.

“It was something out of a dystopian novel, to be honest,” she said.

She said when she realized what was going on, she grabbed the microphone to protest.

Butler said she was threatened with removal and arrest, but her colleagues surrounded her and prevented that from happening.

Both Butler and Cooper said to them, the “losers” of the situation are the people of North Carolina who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, as well as teachers and students.

Butler and others said they were told by House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett) that the vote wasn’t going to happen Wednesday morning.

A WRAL reporter was told the same thing.

In response to the comments by Butler and the governor, speaker Moore said there was never any notice sent to house members saying there would be no vote taken Wednesday morning.

“I said when I realized we had the opportunity to do the veto override, we’re going to do it.” Moore said. “I’ve always been very clear. When I’ve told folks there’s not going to be votes, there are not votes. I’ve kept my word on that. I challenge any member to argue to the contrary. I never said there weren’t going to be votes. I never authorized anyone to say there wouldn’t be votes.”

According to the Speaker’s office, and referenced by Grange, the budget item was put on Wednesday’s calendar instead of being sent back to the Rules committee.

However, Butler says there was an understanding that the vote would take place in the afternoon.

The state senate will still need to concur with the house in order for the override to take effect, but the Associated Press reported Wednesday morning Republicans only need one Democrat to join them in order for that to happen.

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