RALEIGH — State lawmakers in the N.C. House on Wednesday overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state’s budget after a lengthy standoff.
Few Democrats were present when Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) began proceedings on several bills on the House calendar, including overrides of the 2019 Appropriations Act (H.B. 966) and another vetoed bill, House Bill 555, which has funding related the overhaul of the state’s existing Medicaid program.
There were enough members of the House to fulfill quorum — 70 of the 120 members were present. The budget veto override vote passed 55-15.
“The speaker made the promise early on in the budgeting process that anytime we saw an opportunity to override the veto we would do so,” said Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln).
Saine said that when he arrived, he looked around and noticed there were only around nine Democrat members on the floor, so he notified the speaker.
“As the rest of us understood it, we were to be working in session today,” said Saine. “The rules of the House are the rules of the House, and we followed the rules today.”
Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) and other Democrats repeatedly interrupted and objected, yelling over Moore and others attempting to continue. Butler’s display on the House floor was caught on video.
Butler claimed several times that there was an official notice that no recorded votes were going to be taken during the morning session. That claim was investigated and refuted several times by Moore, who stated: “There was absolutely no announcement that there would be no votes this morning. I have confirmed that.”
Butler also made the claim that the other Democrat members and their leadership were not present because they were “redrawing maps.” Butler was likely referring to the recent ruling on North Carolina’s voting maps, however, that ruling put forth that the redrawing process needed to be transparent and done in the full view of the public.
“We are downstairs right now trying to redraw partisan heavy voting maps,” Butler yelled at Moore near the end of the morning session.
When asked about Butler’s apparent admission that the Democrats were working on maps out of the public eye, Saine said that “raises some questions.”
“In her own excitement and coming unglued, she probably admitted to more than she wishes she had this morning,” said Saine. “We may have an answer as to where folks were at. Some of the Democrats who were not on the floor were apparently and possibly doing something illegal.”
Saine called Butler’s admission “an interesting moment” and there was no reason to believe what she said wasn’t true, adding that some explaining needed to be done to that end.
House recessed until later in the afternoon after the override votes were passed.