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NC Republicans Ram Through Budget Veto With Surprise Vote With Nearly Half Of Members Absent

Democrat Rep. Deb Butler on the North Carolina House floor as Republicans sought to rush through a budget veto while Democrats were absent. (Photo: YouTube)
Democrat Rep. Deb Butler on the North Carolina House floor as Republicans sought to rush through a budget veto while Democrats were absent. (Photo: YouTube)

“There’s no confusion about what happened here. This was a lie, and we know why they were not there because they were told that there were not going to be votes.”

North Carolina returned to national headlines this week after the state’s GOP representatives overrode a budget veto on Wednesday while dozens of Democratic members were absent. A video of state Rep. Deb Butler decrying the surprise vote as a “travesty” went viral on Wednesday, highlighting the contentious state of American politics.

The controversy occurred only a day after Republican candidate Dan Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready in a special election for the last open seat in the House of Representatives of the 2018 midterms. President Trump held a rally for Bishop in Fayetteville, NC, the night before the contest, having declared North Carolina a “top-tier priority” for the coming election.

“The two big Congressional wins in North Carolina on Tuesday, Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy, have reverberated all over the World,” tweeted Trump on Friday. “They showed a lot of people how strong the Republican Party is, and how well it is doing. 2020 is a big, and very important, Election. We will WIN!”

Highly Partisan North Carolina Politics

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has vowed to veto any budget that doesn’t expand Medicaid, while the GOP has been fiercely opposed to its expansion. Cooper rejected the GOP’s two-year spending plan over its exclusion of Medicaid expansion, its meager raises for teachers, and its corporate tax reductions he perceives as unnecessary.

“You look at the number of people who were in that chamber and how many of them were Republicans and how many of them were Democrats,” said Cooper. “There’s no confusion about what happened here. This was a lie, and we know why they were not there because they were told that there were not going to be votes.”

North Carolina’s political shenanigans have attracted headlines in recent years, from the GOP-controlled legislature’s move to strip power from incoming Democrat Governor Roy Cooper in 2017 to the ruling last week demanding gerrymandered maps be redrawn before the 2020 election. State Rep. Deb Butler argues that such tactics have undermined faith in North Carolina’s democratic procedures and hurt the state’s teachers, students, environment, and people in need of medical assistance.

“North Carolina is a place that used to be revered for public education,” Butler said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday. “Our teachers are paid at the very bottom of the barrel in this country, our water is contaminated because we have not fully funded our Department of Environmental Quality, our schools are crumbling because of a lack of infrastructure and we have the working poor, of course, who have not enjoyed health care because of our failure to expand Medicaid.”

Have Democrats Let North Carolina Down?

The New Republic’s Nick Martin argues N.C. Democrats need to grow more bold to counter the GOP.

“There might not be a perfect way to convince upscale suburban voters—who may have socially liberal inclinations but mainly care about lower taxes—to vote for Democratic candidates,” wrote Martin. “But the people of North Carolina, like citizens in the rest of the country, have witnessed repeatedly how Democrats’ current approach has failed.”

Martin, who grew up in North Carolina and views it as a microcosm of the nation’s politics, argues the state’s Democratic party has enabled Republicans to impose their will, from drawing hyper-gerrymandered maps to winning Tuesday’s special election that was previously deemed invalid for ballot tampering. Martin argues that McCready’s “reach across the aisle” style-centrism failed to apply to the state’s adversarial politics:

“Offering voters candidates who openly disdain progressives in their own party only ends in overridden vetoes, transphobic bathroom bills, gay marriage bans, underfunded schools, and voters deciding to stay home or go to the mall rather than to the polls,” wrote Martin.

State Rep. Deb Butler, whose refusal to yield during Wednesday’s surprise vote has been praised by activists, has pledged to continue fighting the chamber’s deceptive tactics:

“I’m not a hero, I just tried to stop a freight train of deceit, trickery and corruption with a microphone,” tweeted Butler on Friday. “Your support of me is so greatly appreciated. #IWillNotYield

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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