(ReliableNews.org) – NPR recently reported that GOP Missouri legislators in the state House and Senate formed the Missouri Freedom Caucus. The lawmakers claimed Republican leadership wasn’t pushing hard enough for conservative agenda items, so they took it upon themselves to try and push the legislature farther to the right. State Senator Rick Brattin (R) said the members of the new caucus didn’t “want the status quo,” but wanted to “advance liberty, freedom, and the platform” they promised to uphold in office. The GOP leadership didn’t take kindly to the initiative.
On January 23, the Missouri Independent reported that Caleb Rowden, Senate President Pro Tem, stripped four Freedom Caucus members of their committee assignments and parking spaces. Rowden claimed the legislators forced his hand when they tied up the state Senate for 11 hours trying to for actions that would make it harder to start petitions. The leader called the Missouri Senate an “embarrassment,” stating the chamber was meant to be “occupied by civil, principled statesmen and women.” Instead, he said, a “small group of swamp creatures” in the legislature are acting more like “children” than “colleagues.”
The state lawmakers affected were Brattin, along with his fellow caucus members, Senators Bill Eigel, Denny Hoskins, and Andrew Koenig. Rowden said Brattin acted like he wanted peace, but was nothing but combattive. Eigel, who is also running for governor, lost his chairman seat on the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Pensions Committee. Hoskins was removed from both the Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee.
Brattin lost three committee seats — one protecting assets from foreign adversaries, one regarding military affairs and pension, and the other concerning education and the workforce. Koenig was removed from the same Education and Workforce Development Committee. According to reports, Democrats in the Senate watched the infighting in silence. Rizzo claimed all four weren’t thinking about Missourians while in their seats, but only themselves.
Reactions and Updates
The day after Rizzo removed the Freedom Caucus members from their committee assignments, Missouri Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin (R) seemed to back the Senate president pro tem. She went a step further, telling reporters she would like to expel Eigel from the chamber altogether. However, the act would probably not pass with the required two-thirds vote. The Associated Press reported that when Eigel got word of O’Laughlin’s desire to remove him from the state Senate, he was furious. He reportedly called her to the chamber floor, yelling and pointing at the majority leader.
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