RALEIGH, N,C, (WTVD) -- The North Carolina House of Representatives held a surprise emergency session on September 11 and voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the General Assembly's proposed budget.
Democrats said they were lied to and specifically told no vote would happen Wednesday morning. Instead, Republicans held a vote with 64 of the 120 members of the House present. The vote ended up being 55-9 with the nine present Democrats voting against the override and vehemently objecting to the vote taking place.
After Gov. Roy Cooper finished speaking at the North Carolina National Guard September 11 Commemoration, he held a press conference about what the Republicans had done.
"For a decade, this Republican legislature elected by unconstitutional means has used tricks and bullying to starve our public schools and deny healthcare to half-a-million working North Carolinians," Cooper said at a news conference. "They used lies, bribes and illegal districts because their policies damage our state and can't pass on their own merit. Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9-11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive surprise override of my budget veto."
In a response to Cooper's remarks, House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters policy was followed.
"I've made it clear, I've said right here from where I am on the floor, everywhere, if I see an opportunity to override this budget, this veto, I was going to take that vote," Moore said. "Under our rules, we took a vote on the override. It was properly noticed, procedures properly followed and we took the vote. And I think it's a great day for North Carolina because we finally are a step closer to having a budget."
Republicans had wanted to override Cooper's budget veto for months but did not have the three-fourths of the vote required to override the veto. Without the votes, Republicans kept the veto override on the calendar but never brought it to the floor--until Wednesday.
Democrats charge Republicans with deliberately lying (by saying they would not call a vote on the morning of Sept. 11) in order to push through the vote with just 53 percent of North Carolina representatives present--and with the vast majority of those present being Republicans plotting to override the budget veto.
Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincolnton) called the motion for the vote. He made the motion for the vote and made no bones about the fact that it was called during a state memorial ceremony remembering the sacrifices made during the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"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," Saine said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Darren Jackson said he was told multiple times by Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David R. Lewis (R-Harnett) that no votes would be called until at least 1 p.m. Lewis said some democrats were in a closed-door caucus meeting.
"I publicly announced twice that there would be reported votes today," Lewis said. "I have never, nor would I ever, nor do I have the authority to make a decision that exceeds the Speakers prerogative."
"It was clear by his (Cooper's) remarks, that this all boils down to a policy disagreement, the Governor and the House Democrats are seeking to find an excuse why they were not in session this morning."
"Republican leadership used trickery, deception and lies to get it their way," Cooper said. "Not a single Republican on that floor stood up to say, "Wait a minute, this is not right." When 9 democrats out of the 55 are on the floor, you know something is going on."
"I'm so very disappointed that the Republicans would stoop to this level. If you could've seen the smirking, the rib poking, the grinning, the thrill of victory when you have intentionally mislead our leader, that is despicable behavior." Rep. Deb Butler (D-Wilmington) said. "I don't mind losing a fair fight, but the deceit and misdirection and gotcha style politics should upset every voter in North Carolina."
Sen. Kirk DeViere (D-Cumberland) was also disappointed. "This is wrong, unethical and not what North Carolina citizens deserve," DeViere wrote in an email.