Republican lawmakers in North Carolina voted Wednesday to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget, in a surprise vote that was rammed through with barely half of state representatives present. Democrats say they were tricked by their Republican colleagues, who promised there would be no votes during Wednesday morning’s session of North Carolina’s House of Representatives in order to allow lawmakers to attend 9/11 memorial services. As the vote was called, one of the few remaining Democrats on the floor, state Representative Deb Butler, led a protest.
Rep. Deb Butler: “You shall not do this to democracy in North Carolina, Mr. Speaker! How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker? I will not yield! I will not yield, Mr. Speaker!”
State Representative Butler refused to yield the floor for several minutes — even as Republicans ordered her microphone cut off and as uniformed police entered the House chamber. The measure ultimately passed on a vote of 55 to 9, with 56 lawmakers absent. Last June, Governor Cooper vetoed North Carolina’s budget, saying its Republican authors sought to underpay teachers while rejecting federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid program. In a statement condemning Wednesday’s surprise vote, Cooper accused Republicans of exploiting the 9/11 anniversary for political purposes.
Gov. Roy Cooper: “On a day when tragedy united our country, we should be standing together despite party. But instead, Republicans pulled their most deceptive stunt yet.”
Republicans hoping to override the governor’s veto still need a supermajority in the state Senate. The Republican state representative who called the motion for Wednesday morning’s vote, Jason Saine, defended his actions, saying, “As a former firefighter and an American, I am appalled that anyone in our country would stop going about their normal business on this day. When we stop being a beacon of freedom, hope and democracy, then the terrorists win.”