Senate Democrats may have killed their chance to establish a multi-million dollar fund to compensate people who were sterilized under the Eugenics program. The House budget included over $10 million for a Eugenics Reserve Fund but the Senate spending plan didn’t include it. As the Senate debated it’s budget Sen. Clark Jenkins (D-Edgecombe) offered an amendment that would set up a Eugenics reserve of $11 million. The amendment however was tabled, technically making any such fund ineligible for further consider in the Senate. Senate rule 53 states “after an amendment has been tabled…the contents of such amendment or the principal provisions of its subject matter shall not be embodied in any other measure.” Techinically that means the Senate cannot consider a compromise budget worked out between the Senate and the House that contains a Eugenics reserve fund.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) confirmed that would be the case. He said the only way a fund could be considered is if the rules of the Senate were suspended to allow introduction of the issue. A majority of the Senate would have to vote to approve such a suspension.
Update: Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) released a statement saying the amendment offered by Sen. Jenkins was full of tax and spending increases besides the Eugenics fund. Berger said Republicans could not vote for the amendment.
Here’s the statement released through Sen. Berger’s office:
“The morally reprehensible action taken several decades ago by the North Carolina eugenics program is a tragic episode in our state’s history that must never be repeated. It is unfortunate that Democrats decided to politicize the issue of providing compensation by including it in a controversial amendment filled with tax hikes and spending increases they knew Republicans could not support. Under a longstanding rule (Rule 53) created during the Democrats’ leadership, the amendment’s failure now prohibits the Senate from considering compensation for eugenics victims in any other measure for the rest of this session.”