Surprise vote is new low for House Republicans desperate to deny heath care for 500,000 people.
by Carol Prince
What just happened? Why is everyone freaking out?
In an early morning session, the North Carolina House, under the direction of Speaker Tim Moore, overrode Gov. Cooper’s budget veto in a surprise vote.
What budget veto?
Passage of a state budget has been at an impasse for months. Republicans have a majority in the state legislature, but it is no longer veto-proof since the 2018 elections ended their supermajority. After Republicans passed their version of a budget in June that did not include Medicaid expansion, one of Cooper’s priorities, Cooper vetoed the budget. House Republican leadership refused to hold a vote to attempt to override the veto because they did not have enough support for the measure. Despite this, they put the vote on the House agenda every day for months.
What is required for an override?
An override happens when both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly (House and Senate) vote by a 3/5ths margin to nullify a Governor’s veto.
So why was it a surprise? Haven’t the Republicans been trying to take this vote for months?
House Republicans told Democrats that there would be no recorded votes on the floor today until 1 p.m. That’s why most Democrats were not present for the vote. Reporters also said it was a “shock” to them because they were told that no votes would be taken.
Wait, but I thought the NCGA was supposed to be working on redistricting?
They are. The House and Senate have been pulling long days trying to figure out how to draw fair maps after the court ruled that North Carolina legislative districts were unfairly partisan (favoring Republicans). Tense moments and legal questions already ensued in committee hearings. Most members were focused on this process over the past few days. House Republican leaders used the focus on redistricting to slyly pass a budget veto override vote.
What happens now?
The veto override vote heads to the Senate, where the budget may be overridden as soon as this afternoon. Some Senate Dems have called themselves “insurance policies” on this vote. Meaning, the veto can only be sustained if every single senate Democrat is present and votes to sustain the veto. If just one Senate Democrat breaks from their party, the veto will be overridden.
Why does this matter?
The budget does not include Medicaid Expansion, a crucial measure that would close the health coverage gap. Nationally, the share of people with health insurance decreased in 2018 due to Republican efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act. It appears the North Carolina Republicans will go to extreme lengths to continue to deny health coverage to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.