The waiting game over when House Republican leadership will try to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget veto will carry over into a third week.
The veto override and the bipartisan Medicaid expansion bill were not addressed for a seventh consecutive session Wednesday.
House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, told House members there will be no session votes on legislation until Monday night, though the two bills are on the agenda for today’s 10 a.m. session.
Moore told reporters after the July 8 session — the first session to skip a vote — that “we’re going to wait until the time is right.”
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Tuesday the Senate is inclined to stick with its plans to adjourn the current session Monday — to reconvene Aug. 27 for a limited session — though Moore told reporters Monday that the House is likely not to follow the same timeline.
Both chambers have to agree on an adjournment date.
“The speaker has some expectations that an override will take place, and I am hopeful that is the case,” Berger said. “We have been here a while, and I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense for us to keep people here for an indefinite period of time.”
Cooper vetoed the Republican budget compromise June 28. Republicans need at least seven Democratic House members and at least one Democratic senator to vote for a veto override.
Berger said during a press conference Tuesday that while the Senate GOP leadership wants to negotiate with Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders on the budget, he remains firm in his opposition to any insertion of Medicaid expansion.
That includes HB655, which Berger has criticized for including a charge to hospital and medical providers that he says will serve eventually as a tax on patients.
The bill has drawn criticism for including a work and premium-payment requirement on recipients.
“It is clear that there was nothing that could be done as far as budget negotiations moving forward unless there is an agreement that Medicaid expansion was either part of the budget or was passed in advance of the budget,” Berger said.
Berger said Medicaid expansion is “a very important policy issue, but it shouldn’t hold up the budget process.”
Cooper said in a letter sent to legislative leaders on July 10 that, “in recent days, it has become clear that you do not have the votes to override my veto of the budget. I don’t believe you are likely to secure those votes.”
On Tuesday, Cooper expressed in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal his confidence in not only the budget veto surviving an override vote, but also that there are enough Republican votes in the House and Senate to pass HB655.
“We definitely have the votes in the House for passage of the Medicaid expansion bill even with the work and premium requirements, but that alone doesn’t get Medicaid expansion,” Cooper said.
“There are nine to 10 Senate Republicans who are amendable to a settlement on Medicaid expansion” that’s contained in HB655, Cooper said.
The governor said he is willing to accept key elements of the Republican budget, such as supporting all the special local projects that Republican leaders have been promoting to entice Democratic legislators to support a veto override.
Cooper said his counterproposal on the budget includes restoring the $42.2 million to renovate the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem and $15 million for the Hauser building renovation at Winston-Salem State University.
Cooper said his proposal pays for those special projects by eliminating the next round of corporate tax-rate cuts, slated to go from 3% to 2.5%.
Cooper said that Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, and Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, “could play key roles in getting these projects for Forsyth and expanding health-care coverage.” Lambeth is a primary sponsor of HB655 and the lead House budget writer.
“North Carolina voters want balanced government and (GOP leaders) want to continue to have 100% control of the budget process,” Cooper said.
“We should be able to find common ground on passing a good budget, but they are spending all their energy on overriding the veto.”