RALEIGH (WTVD) --In an effort to force a recently-appointed member of Gov. Roy Cooper's Cabinet to testify at a confirmation hearing, Senate republicans voted to subpoena Secretary Larry Hall.
On Thursday, after Hall, Cooper's new secretary of military and veterans affairs, failed to show up for his hearing a third time, the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee voted along party lines to issue a subpoena, compelling him to appear before the committee on March 2 at 11 a.m.
READ THE FULL SUBPOENA HERE
"We have bent over backwards to be patient with Secretary Hall," said Phil Berger, Senate Pres. Pro Tem in a press conference leading into the committee meeting. "For whatever reason, the governor has turned this into one of the biggest political fights of the year. Makes us wonder, what on earth are they hiding?"
Democrats argue the committee doesn't have the power to hold confirmation hearings.
The new vetting process of Cooper's Cabinet appointees was approved by the republican-led General Assembly in December before Cooper took office.
Cooper sued to stop the hearings but a three-judge panel refused to block the new law's enforcement until a trial next month.
READ MORE: Larry Hall once again a no-show at confirmation hearing
Sen. Floyd McKissick and other committee democrats argued the court order prevents confirmation hearings until Cooper submits the names of his Cabinet nominees, and that he has until May 15 to do so.
Republicans, however, said Hall has already taken his oath of office, is serving in his new role, and is on a taxpayer-funded salary.
"It's about power," said McKissick. "It's a pure power play. It's a Republican majority who at this point in time are trying to establish their rank and superiority over Gov. Cooper and trying to make certain that they can hold him accountable."
Gov. Cooper's office issued the following statement after the committee's vote:
"Larry Hall is a Marine Corps veteran and longtime legislator who brings a wealth of experience to his work as Secretary for military and veterans affairs. It's disappointing that this committee, which has ignored the findings of a court order by meeting prematurely, would engage in this political charade when there's so much to focus on repealing HB2 and raising teacher pay. We look forward to the March 7 hearing on the constitutionality of this unprecedented process."
Republicans are expressing their frustration, saying Hall is defying the law; some are hinting in the end, they may not confirm Hall.
"My ability to support Mr. Hall has wavered significantly from where we began this process because of his blatant refusal to respect this committee and its authority," said Sen. Ralph Hise.
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