The N.C. House will take its final vote on the budget compromise at 12:01 a.m. Friday after legislators rejected an attempt to hold the vote a day earlier.
Under House rules, the budget bill must be publicly available for at least three days before the first vote. Because it was posted online at 11:30 a.m. Monday, the vote must wait until Thursday. The Senate has no such rule and scheduled its first vote for Tuesday afternoon.
House Rules Chairman David Lewis said Monday that he was interested in suspending the rules to allow an earlier vote. But he said Republicans would only do it if House Democratic Leader Larry Hall didn’t object.
Hall did oppose the move, saying legislators need more time to review the budget, but fellow Democratic Rep. Elmer Floyd of Fayetteville made a motion on the floor Tuesday to speed up the process.
Suspending the House rules requires a two-thirds majority vote, so Floyd’s motion failed because the vote was 62-41.
House Majority Leader Mike Hager said voting a day earlier would still allow legislators to read the 429-page budget bill. “I think it’s ample time,” he said. “I think our folks want it to be efficient and be effective.”
Others pointed out that a midnight vote Friday morning would give Gov. Pat McCrory just hours to sign the bill before the current temporary budget expires Friday night. If he vetoed the budget or didn’t sign quickly, lawmakers would need to extend the temporary budget by day’s end, or much of state government would shut down.
Hall – along with a number of Democrats and Republicans – disagreed. “We have not as a caucus had a chance to have a full briefing from legislative staff, and certainly we like to know what we’re voting for or against,” he said. “We would be committing borderline legislative malpractice.”
Hall was joined in opposition by Republican Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern, one of the chamber’s most conservative members.
“I need time to read it, and you need time to read it,” Speciale said. “We’ve been here eight months, one more day is not going to make a difference.”