It looks like Bill O’Brien and his majoirty leader, DJ Bettencourt, may be losing their grip on the legislature.
According to tweets from the Concord Monitor, O’Brien was booed by House members when he said he would not postpone a bill on Right To Work today. The reason for the postponement? Rep. Quandt, who is recovering from surgery, had asked for the vote to be postponed until next week so he could speak against it. Really? O’Brien would not give a fellow rep the courtesy of postponing the vote due to a medical issue? Oh, right, this is O’Brien we are speaking about. Defying O’Brien, the House voted 300-41 to postpone.
This may explain why he was so grumpy later in the day when the House took up the amendment to HB1546, to allow discrimination against women’s health care – being booed by your members, and then losing a vote involving RTW will do that to a guy.
When applause broke out following Rep. DeStefano’s remarks opposing the amendment, O’Brien pounded the gavel and threatened to clear the gallery. He did it again when there some scattered boos; after that, the gallery engaged in a lot of hand waving to indicate support, and thumbs down to indicate opposition. The Speaker glared; I think he was hoping for an excuse to clear the gallery.
The amendment passed, 187-152, and the full bill passed 196-150. These were not veto proof votes. This was an issue on which O’Brien said, leadership opposed the current law. Yet he and Bettenourt were unable to cobble the Republican votes together to produce a veto proof majority.
Last year, O’Brien and Bettecourt successfully intimidated Republican legislators; this year, their grip is slipping. Yes, both the amendment and the bill passed, but their failure to reach 200, and the 300 vote on the postponement of RTW, were telling rebukes to leadership.