NC House Republicans Repeal Veto Override Rule


North Carolina’s controversial bills could be approved without notice if the House adopts new rules proposed by the GOP majority.

State lawmakers returned to Raleigh on Wednesday, where for the next two years the GOP will have nearly enough members to pass an agenda at will and override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

Cooper, who has had to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature since he was first elected in 2016, has vetoed more bills than any North Carolina governor. He has blocked bills aimed at expanding gun access, restricting abortion rights, banning the teaching of critical race theory, and many other GOP pursuits.

On a party-line vote Wednesday, state House GOP members adopted rules for their chamber that allow the speaker to call a vote on Cooper’s veto without notice. Under the house rules approved in the previous legislative session, members could not vote to override a gubernatorial veto “until the second legislative day after notice of its placement on the calendar.” The rule is valid for at least ten years.

The rules passed Wednesday also give the Speaker of the House more power to change the order of business during a House session. Congressman Tim Moore was elected speaker Wednesday for a fifth consecutive term.

WRAL News obtained a draft of the proposed rules late Tuesday before it was released publicly Wednesday.

House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Destin Hall called the new rules temporary. On the House floor, Hall said he had contacted Minority Leader Robert Reaves, D-Chatham, about his intention to pass a more permanent package of rules in early February.

Hall and Raves, meanwhile, agreed to delay debate on the rules unveiled Wednesday.

“I spoke with Chief Raves this morning. He and I agree that a debate on our rules package will potentially take place at some point. But today is not the day. Today is a day to celebrate,” Hall said, referring to the swearing-in ceremony for the new members. The families of some of the lawmakers sat with them on the House floor.

Said Raves: “In light of kumbaya for today, I will say that I may have some opposition to some of the rules that we’re trying to pass. … As much as I would like to treat you to the opposition that I have, I will not do it. But we look forward to these debates.”

If Wednesday’s rules become permanent, attendance at the session will be mandatory for any Democrat hoping to defend Cooper’s veto. Members of the Democratic Party will have to carefully monitor when they can leave the chamber — even for practical matters like making a phone call or using the bathroom — so they don’t leave the House lawmakers unbalanced.

Republican leadership believes the change is appropriate, Demi Dowdy, Moore’s communications director, said in an email Wednesday morning. Moore has previously supported rules requiring advance notice of veto overrides.

In a statement, the North Carolina Democratic Party accused Republicans of using “fishing tactics to push their agenda and drive representatives out of office.”

“The public deserves transparent and accountable government — a hastily called vote while a representative is on the toilet does everyone a disservice and erodes the democratic process,” said former state Rep. Bobbi Richardson, the party’s chairwoman. “Despite Speaker Moore’s bad faith attempts to bend the rules to bolster his own power, North Carolina Democrats are ready to stand up to bad Republican bills and support Governor Cooper’s veto.”

Republicans, who have controlled the state legislature since 2011, have not had a supermajority in the legislature since 2018. But they came close to winning a supermajority in November when they won a supermajority in the state Senate and came one place is missing in the State House.
Democrats expect Republicans to seize any opportunity to overrule Cooper, as they have done in the past. In 2019, House Republicans were able to override Cooper’s veto of their budget plan one morning when Democrats were not in the room. Many Democrats were absent because they said the GOP leader told them there would be a no-vote session in the morning.

In the end, Cooper’s veto stood. Republicans failed to pass it in the state senate.

NC House Republicans Repeal Veto Override Rule

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