Parliamentary Chess: Resurrecting H2

House Republicans' attempt to override Perdue's veto of H2 may have failed yesterday, but we'll see it again next week, anyway. Here's how.

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Laura Leslie
House Republicans’ attempt to override Perdue’s veto of H2 may have failed yesterday. But it’s not a done deal. In fact, we'll see it again next week.

Under House rules, when a bill fails, it goes to the “unfavorable calendar” – a sort of legislative limbo where it languishes till the session is over. But there’s a one-legislative-day window in which lawmakers can decide to bring it back from limbo and try it again.

House rules say the motion to “reconsider” – to bring the bill out of limbo, basically – must be made by someone who voted with the side that prevailed. Then a majority of the House has to approve the reconsideration. If they do, it comes back to life – it can be held in a committee or voted on again on the floor.

That’s what’s going to happen next week to the governor’s veto of the anti-HCR mandate bill H2, according to Speaker Thom Tillis. House Republicans and Democrats voted today to suspend the one-day rule for H2, allowing them to hold a reconsideration vote next week.

If you’re wondering why Democrats went along with this, it’s because they didn’t have much of a choice. Tillis called a two-hour recess this afternoon for a caucus event. Democrats were told they could leave if they liked: there would be no new bills or veto votes after the break. Eight of them did.

Meanwhile, across the aisle, some Republicans saw this as a golden opportunity to bring H2 out of limbo and vote again on whether to override. A veto override requires three-fifths of the members present and voting. There were only 112 in the chamber this afternoon, so the magic number would be 66. The Republicans had 68.

With those numbers, the Republicans could have won a reconsideration, and then overridden the veto. That’s what some were pushing to do. But Tillis said he’d given his word they wouldn’t do that. So he and Minority Leader Joe Hackney worked out today’s compromise, allowing the one-day window for reconsideration to be extended indefinitely for H2.

When they take it up next week, here’s how Tillis says it will work.

  1. Majority Leader Paul Stam will change his vote on the override from Aye to No, putting him on the winning side. (House rules let members change any vote on any bill at any time, as long as it doesn’t change the outcome of the overall vote.)
  2. Then, he’ll make the motion to reconsider the bill. That’s a simple majority vote, so Republicans will prevail.
  3. The vetoed bill will be held in a committee. It could reappear at any time until the session ends in 2012.
The veto override would still require a three-fifths vote - that doesn’t change.   But the number of votes needed to get to three-fifths does.  So the next time GOP leaders find several Democrats absent, lowering that number, they can bring it out of committee and push it through.

Tillis couldn’t say whether he would or wouldn’t pull it out in the dead of night or after a holiday weekend sometime. “I think what it says is, you better show up for work.”



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