RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina House Republicans called a surprise vote and overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto on Wednesday morning, Cooper said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The vote was taken while Cooper was at a 9/11 memorial event.
According to a tweet by State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), almost half of the House members were absent when the vote was taken, which resulted in a 55-9 tally.
Jackson said Democrats were specifically told by Republicans that no votes would be held in Wednesday’s morning session.
The veto still stands in the Senate.
“Plainly unethical behavior by Republicans today,” the senator said in his tweet. “There have to be consequences for this kind of behavior. Just another lesson in why they must lose their majority.”
Cooper had an event scheduled in Scotland County Wednesday morning, but he canceled it and instead held a press conference at noon regarding the vote.
“For two months, Republicans refused to offer a compromise or sit down at a true negotiating table with me,” he said. “Democrats were told there would be no votes this morning. That was a bald-faced lie.”
Cooper was forceful with his language when describing what happened at the General Assembly.
“Today, Republicans waged an assault on our democracy,” Cooper said. “They cheated the people of North Carolina.”
In a question-and-answer session with reporters at the press conference, Cooper said he had never seen anything like what happened Wednesday morning.
“I have never seen anything like this in my 30-plus years in state government,” he said. “This is a true assault on our democracy. There is no question about it.”
House Speaker Tim Moore said during a press conference around 1:15 p.m. he has made it clear he was looking for any opportunity to override the budget veto.
Moore said he took exception to the attacks made by Cooper and other Democrats Wednesday morning following the vote.
“It was properly noticed,” Moore said. “It’s a great day for North Carolina.”
Moore said it is his job as house speaker to see the budget that was passed by majority become law.
“All they had to do was show up to work,” Moore said in regards to Democrats.
Rep. John Autry (D-Mecklenburg) posted a video from the floor of the General Assembly showing Rep. Deb Butler (D-Brunswick, New Hanover) voicing her displeasure after finding out about the veto override.
In the video, Butler called the Speaker of the House “a coward” and said, “you are making a mockery of this process. You are deceiving the people of North Carolina. Your leadership is an embarrassment to the history of this great state.
The video can be seen in its entirety above.
Another video, recorded by Suzanne Weiss, a legislative assistant to Rep. Wesley Harris’ (D-Mecklenburg), showed members of the House surrounding Butler to prevent her from being arrested.
The Senate is scheduled to reconvene Thursday at 9 a.m. when votes are scheduled to be taken. Senate leader Phil Berger (R) told CBS 17 he does not anticipate the budget coming up for a vote, and the calendar for Thursday does not include a vote on overriding the governor’s veto.
Berger declined to comment directly on Speaker Moore’s decision to hold the vote Wednesday morning.
“You know I really don’t have anything to say about the budget or a veto override or anything, we are laser focused on trying to get this redistricting taken care of,” he said. “We have no plans to deal with the budget this week.”
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