Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County, the Senate minority leader, today said Democrats will continue to bang the drum for the 37,000 North Carolinians left without extended unemployment benefits because of the General Assembly’s standoff with the governor over the budget.
Nesbitt announced on the Senate floor this afternoon that a discharge petition would be circulated to force a bill allowing the benefits extension to come to an immediate vote. Rules say if 34 senators sign the petition, a motion to discharge it from committee comes to the floor for a vote the next legislative day. If two-thirds of the Senate adopt the motion, then it must be considered by the Senate the next day that the Senate meets.
“We’re going to keep this at the forefront because these people need somebody to advocate for them,” he told reporters Tuesday. “... It’s interesting to me how hard we’ve become in this country and callous, if you will.”
Last week Nesbitt organized a public hearing at which several of the 37,000 who have been left without unemployment extensions spoke.
Democrats began collecting signatures on the Senate petition immediately after the Senate recessed. There are 31 Republicans in the Senate and 19 Democrats. There is also a discharge petition in the House.
Earlier today, House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office posted a Tweet continuing the Republican strategy of blaming the problem on the governor, who vetoed a bill extending the benefits because the GOP included a provision to set in motion budget cuts they favor if the governor and General Assembly can’t agree. “Help us convince the Governor that she MUST compromise on the extension of unemployment benefits AND a CR,” the Tweet said. CR is a continuing resolution to keep the government in operation in the event of a standoff.