With the leader of their party proving daily from the White House that truthfulness is an obsolete concept among Republicans, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by the brazenly deceptive move made by the GOP members of the North Carolina House of Representatives this morning.
The Republican legislators in the state House of Representatives took a surprise vote to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget the body had passed earlier while Democrats were largely absent from the chamber, attending a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the anniversary of the deadly assault.
The few Democrats who were present strongly objected to the measure being brought up, claiming that their GOP colleagues had promised not to take up any significant legislation during the early morning session while they were at the memorial service and that the morning proceedings were supposed to be just a formality to get a head start on the workday, according to a report on the controversy by The Raleigh News & Observer.
According to the paper, here’s how it went down:
“Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, made the motion to reconsider the state budget and chaos in the chamber quickly ensued. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, said that announcement was not made, and even asked the House Clerk to back him up.”
Speaker Moore’s denial of the promise that Democrats say had been made enraged the few members of the party who had stayed behind from the memorial service.
“This is a travesty of the process and you know it,” Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, said when the vote was called, noting that Democratic leadership was not present. “We will not yield.”
“How dare you Mr. Speaker?” Rep. Butler exclaimed. “The trickery that is being evidenced by this morning is tantamount to a criminal offense.”
The Democratic representative described the vote as a “hijacking of the process.” Butler said that she was then threatened with arrest on the House floor. She described the Republican’s method of governance “scorched earth politics” and an “embarrassment.”
“What happened in that chamber this morning is heartbreaking,” she said. “The fact that they would sit and lie in wait to trap these good citizens, these good representatives, is disgraceful.”
In a news conference after the veto was enacted, House Democratic leader Darren Jackson explained his party’s side of the story.
Jackson said that he had told his fellow Democrats that they did not need to attend the morning session because he had been told by a Republican colleague that no recorded votes would be held. With a majority of Democrats absent, the GOP only needed 38 votes to reach the 3/5ths majority of members present required to override the governor’s veto of the budget. Of the 12 Democrats who were present, Jackson claims that not all of them were allowed to vote and that they had their microphones cut off to prevent them from speaking.
“If we can’t trust each other, this place will fall apart, it’s just too big an entity to run, too many processes to require for everything to be in writing,” Jackson said, explaining that if someone with responsibility makes a statement, you have to trust that it is true.
The Democratic leader now wants the chamber to recall the veto vote — a process that only requires a simple majority vote — before the veto is sent to the state Senate.
According to The News & Observer, an impasse over the contested state budget had been dragging on for months, with Governor Cooper lamenting that the vote to override his veto had been on the House calendar since early July without ever being brought to a vote.
“Day after day, they put the vetoed budget on the calendar, and day after day they don’t vote on an override. They try strong arming, bribes, public pressure, university tours and even trickery. Still, they do not vote on the vetoed budget,” Cooper said a few weeks ago.
Governor Cooper had offered up a compromise budget in response to his veto of the bill the state House originally passed but said he was waiting on a Republican counter-proposal.
That the North Carolina Republican party is less than completely ethical and aboveboard should come as no surprise, given that the state has been without one elected representative to the U.S. House of Representatives since the 2018 elections after the original contest for that seat was nullified after it was discovered that GOP operatives had committed massive election fraud by manipulating absentee ballots. That contest was finally settled yesterday with a special election that was narrowly won by the Republican candidate in a strong GOP district that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. The narrowness of the victory has Republicans nervous about their future prospects in 2020 and could be one of the reasons for their furtive move in the statehouse this morning.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.