Playing the waiting game may have paid off for state House Republican leadership when it comes to overriding two pivotal vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
The leadership held its long-awaited vote to override a veto of House Bill 966, the Republican state budget compromise, on Wednesday morning when many of the House Democrats were not on the floor or were in a caucus meeting.
The vote was 55-9 in favor of the state budget override, having achieved the necessary quorum of at least 61 members present.
There are 65 GOP and 55 Democratic House members.
The fate of the budget now goes to the Senate for an override vote. The Senate has a 29-21 GOP majority and would need at least one Democratic vote to reach the three-fifths majority necessary for a successful override at full attendance.
House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said he fulfilled a pledge that he would conduct a veto override bill when "I see an opportunity ... I was going to take that vote."
"When we came in (Wednesday), we saw we had the numbers to do that."
He said he did not manipulate the House floor calendar to mislead House Democrats. He said he checked with the House clerk to see if they had been any announcements he was aware of about not holding votes.
"There was never any notice about not conducting votes," Moore said.
"Most of the (GOP) caucus showed up thinking that we were going to be voting on bills."
Moore said that regardless of the voting scenario, it "is a great day for North Carolina. We're finally a step closer to having a state budget."
Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, tweeted that Democrat Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, was told by Rep. David Lewis, House Rules and Operations committee chairman, that there would be no votes held Wednesday. That message was relayed to the Democratic caucus.
Lewis denied in a joint press conference Wednesday with Moore that he said there would be no recorded votes to Democratic members and he did not understand how Jackson had misconstrued their conversation about Wednesday's morning session.
Lewis said he announced on the House floor Tuesday that there would be two votes planned for two mini-budget bills — neither were taken up during the 8:30 a.m. session.
"I would not make a decision that would override the speaker's authority," Lewis said.
“How dare you, Mr. Speaker?” Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, said when House leadership said it was ready for the veto override on the state budget, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
“The trickery that is being evidenced by this morning is tantamount to a criminal offense.” Butler described the vote as a “hijacking of the process.”