Several protestors took to the North Carolina’s state capitol Thursday to call for the House Speaker’s resignation following what some are calling a surprise veto override vote Wednesday.
Dozens of people crowded the gallery of the House chamber holding signs and chanting the word “Shame.” Others, including members of the local NAACP chapter, Progress NC and North Carolina Association of Educators, gathered around a podium placed on the lawn of the building for a rally.
“North Carolina is better than this,” Rep. Deb Butler, R–Wilmington, said.
Butler was in the House chamber Wednesday when Speaker Tim Moore called for a vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper's budget veto. More than 30 Democratic representatives were not on the House floor when Moore called the vote.
Democrats said they were told that there would be no voting at the session. A video of Butler going head to head with Moore went viral Wednesday, spurring the #WeWillNotYield hashtag. Supporters used the hashtag as a battle cry for the protest Thursday morning.
“Our citizens deserve representatives with integrity… respect for the rule of law. What happened here was a shameful, shameful display,” Butler said.
People gathered around Butler held signs that said “Shame on Speaker Moore,” “Don’t Ambush Our Schools,” “Don’t Cheat Us Out of Affordable Healthcare” and more.
Republicans have pushed back against the criticism, denying claims that the GOP leadership said there would be no voting on Wednesday. However, WRAL reporter Laurie Leslie released a screenshot of texts between herself and House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, where Lewis said there would be no voting during the 8:30 a.m. session.
“I told you the truth that I did not think there would be votes, but you are the only person I told that to,” Lewis told the reporter.
Moore told reporters that he takes responsibility for the vote. His members and staff saw an opportunity to secure the vote and took it.
“The veto override was never planned, discussed, or considered by House leaders or staff until Wednesday morning’s session,” Moore said Thursday.
The House vote was 55-15, according to the official record. Thirty-nine Democratic and five Republican representatives did not vote. Six other members were marked absent.
While protests continue in and outside of the capitol, the Senate did not vote on the override on Thursday morning nor was it added to the calendar. Senate rules mandate that the minority party be given 24-hour notice ahead of the vote. With only 29 Republicans in the Senate Chamber, it would take at least one Democratic senator to successfully override.
Gov. Cooper vetoed the budget in late June, saying that it prioritized corporations over people and did not include an expansion of Medicaid, something he's pushed for. The governor drafted a compromise proposal which had higher pay raises for teachers and a $2 billion, partially federally funded Medicaid expansion, which Republican leaders said they would not support.