The state Senate confirmed former legislator Larry Hall to be Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet secretary running the military and veterans affairs agency on Monday night.
The 47-0 vote came the day before attorneys for Cooper and Republican legislative leaders face off in a court hearing over the governor’s lawsuit claiming the Senate lacks the constitutional authority to review and confirm Cabinet appointees.
Hall missed three scheduled Senate committee meetings over the dispute, before appearing the fourth time because the committee subpoenaed him. After a 90-minute hearing Thursday, where questioning was mostly deferential, followed by a brief second committee meeting, Hall was recommended for confirmation.
Tuesday’s court hearing could determine whether the next nine Cabinet appointments will also be reviewed by the Senate.
At Monday’s meeting, Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Southport, referred to the controversy around the confirmation process that Cooper fought against.
“I believe this hearing did provide great service to the public,” Rabon said. “I must say I look forward to having the other nominees come in and go before the committees.”
Later, Rabon said he plans to confirm all of the nominees, “where possible.”
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, objected to proceeding before the court ruled on the constitutionality of the process.
“We’ve now subjected it to a veto of the Senate,” McKissick said. “The people of the state have voted. They made a decision. They elected Roy Cooper governor. Let him be held accountable.”
Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican representing Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties, said the people’s voice is reflected in the provision in the state Constitution that gives the Senate the power of advice and consent to gubernatorial appointments. The power had not been wielded, however, until Republican Gov. Pat McCrory lost in November.
Brock said the process is more transparent than the way it was done before.
“Discussions were made behind closed doors as to who would be appointed to which Cabinet” position, he said.
After the vote, Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement:
“North Carolina is a proud military state, with the third-largest active duty and reserve population in America and many highly-respected veterans who have chosen to make this state their permanent home. The Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is a very important role, and we appreciate Secretary Hall’s participation in the confirmation process and pledge to continue serving honorably, just as he did in his years of military service.”