Update: Lawmakers avoided a veto override by transferring the language of Cook's vetoed bill into another piece of legislation, AB 717, which passed in the final hours of the session. That bill will be sent to the governor's desk.
With time running out in today's end-of-session madness, it appears less likely that the Legislature will override Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of a bill honoring Vietnam veterans.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, says that Senate Republicans won't agree to go along with the veto override, which requires two-thirds support in the Legislature.
Cook said he still has hope for a late-day override, but he's also pushing for Assembly Bill 717, a gut-and-amend bill that contains the same language as the vetoed Assembly Bill 264. Both bills would dedicate March 30 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" and encourage schools to use that day to recognize the contributions of Vietnam veterans.
The Republican governor vetoed AB 264 on Tuesday after telling lawmakers he would kill any bill they did not withdraw because he felt they were ignoring priorities like water and his appointments. Cook, a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Corps colonel, chose not to have his bill withdrawn, and Democrats openly dared Schwarzenegger to veto such a politically sensitive bill.
Schwarzenegger immediately did so. Overriding Schwarzenegger's veto would be an act of legislative defiance not seen since 1979. Cook said Democrats are on board, but sources said Republicans may be wary of pursuing an override against their own party's governor.
Cook, who met with Schwarzenegger on Thursday, said he has an assurance from the governor that he would sign AB 717 if it reaches his desk. Cook said it remains unclear what will happen.
"The bill is relatively straightforward from a policy standpoint, but the veto was tremendous in terms of sensitivity," Cook said. "It's a visceral symbol of being forgotten, of being disrespected or disregarded, if you will. In the last few days, it's become a symbol of political leverage that disgusts so many veterans."