WASHINGTON — After telling members there would be no votes and taking advantage of Democratic attendance at a 9/11 memorial, North Carolina House Republicans jammed through an override of the governor’s budget veto through a half-empty chamber this morning.
“It’s no longer a surprise when North Carolina Republicans disrespect the rule of law — but disrespecting 9/11 victims and their families is a contemptible new low for this moralless majority,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee press secretary Matt Harringer. “Thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11 simply because they lived in a free democracy — and on the anniversary of their death, North Carolina Republicans again abused our democratic process for their own selfish partisan purposes.”
House Minority Leader Darren Jackson was assured multiple times by Rules Committee Chairman David R. Lewis (R-Harnett) that no votes would be called until at least 1 p.m., after the ceremony concluded.
Republicans were well prepared for the underhanded maneuver, with 55 of their members in attendance and only twelve Democrats in the chamber, just enough for a quorum. There were no news cameras and few, if any, reporters in the chamber, as they were covering the 9/11 memorial ceremony. An explosive video of the vote can be found here and audio recording from the House Clerk can be heard here.
“You shall not usurp the process, Mr. Speaker,” Representative Deb Butler (D-Wilmington) shouted on the floor. “How dare you subject this body to trickery, deceptive practices — hijacking the process. We have been here day and night for months, defending what we believe — and you would submit this body to trickery, deception, deceit. It is so typical of the way you conduct yourself.”
“How dare you, Mr. Speaker,” she said. “If this is the way you believe democracy works, shame on you.”
The budget impasse had dragged out all summer long, with Republicans repeatedly placing the override vote on the chamber’s calendar, but postponing action because they lacked support to pass the measure — until taking advantage of 9/11.
The override must still pass the state Senate, where Republicans remain one vote short.
"I'm so very disappointed that the Republicans would stoop to this level. If you could have seen the smirking, the rib poking, the grinning, the thrill of victory when you have intentionally misled our leader, that is despicable behavior," Butler added at a press conference.
Governor Roy Cooper will hold a press conference at noon to address the shameless vote.