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Government, Politics & Issues

Members of Missouri congressional delegation reflect on Capitol riot anniversary

Rep. Cori Bush (MO-1) calls on Gov. Mike Parson to grant Ernest Johnson clemency on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, outside of the St. Xavier College Church on the St. Louis University campus in St. Louis, Mo. Johnson, an intellectually challenged Black man was convicted of a 1990s triple homicide and subsequently sentenced to death. The execution was carried out later in the evening after the U.S. Supreme Court denied to halt the move.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Congresswoman Cori Bush, shown in October, experienced the Jan. 6 Capitol riot soon after she was sworn into office.

Congresswoman Cori Bush had only been on the job for a few days when she witnessed then-President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

A year after the insurrection, Bush said she’s heartened that the House set up a committee to look into what led up to the Jan. 6 riots. But the St. Louis County Democrat adds that more needs to be done. And she said that day took a toll on how she interacts with some Republican members of Congress — and on staff around the Capitol.

“We had so many people who quit their jobs: from custodial workers to cafeteria workers and even Congress members who have decided that they no longer want to be a part of this,” Bush said. “And some of it is what happens next. Because we haven’t seen enough change.”

In the days after the insurrection, Bush sponsored a resolution that would have the House Ethics Committee look into whether Republican members of Congress aided any of the rioters — and, if so, recommend their expulsion. While that measure has more than 50 cosponsors, it hasn’t moved through the House.

“Nobody that’s actively engaged or enabled that white supremacist coup on the Capitol should be seated as a member of Congress,” she said.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) speaks to the media on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, at the site of the future National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.
File photo / Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, speaks to the media in October at the site of the future National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters in St. Louis. Blunt spoke about legislation that's been passed since the Jan. 6 insurrection at a recent hearing of the Senate Rules Committee.

Blunt notes law changes in committee speech

Bush joined Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City; Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin; and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, in voting to sustain Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

During remarks at a meeting of the Senate Rules Committee earlier this week, Blunt said: “The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a tragic day for our country. Everyone who took part in that attack should be prosecuted based on their actions and plans. That process continues, and I support it.”

He noted the passage of the Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act of 2021, which provides the Capitol Police chief with authority to request emergency assistance from the National Guard and other federal law enforcement agencies. He also pointed to an appropriations bill that provided “additional and necessary funding for salaries, overtime pay, trauma support, riot control equipment for all officers, and specialized training.”

“One year after January the 6th, 2021, we acknowledge that there's been considerable progress but also acknowledge … that much work remains to be done,” Blunt said at the hearing. “We'll continue to work together to ensure the department addresses its critical needs and is positioned to be better trained, better equipped, and better prepared in the future.”

A spokeswoman for Blunt said he was not available for an interview this week. Wagner’s office did not respond to an interview request. U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

josh hawley 2021
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U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley in June at Lincoln Days in Kansas City.

Hawley: 'I'm not going anywhere'

While four members of the Missouri delegation voted to sustain Biden’s victory in Arizona and Pennsylvania, Republican Missouri U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Billy Long, Jason Smith and Sam Graves joined Hawley in rejecting the electoral results in those states.

Hawley in particular was in the spotlight for being the first Republican senator to announce that he’d vote to object to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. He was also photographed raising a fist in support of the crowd gathered near the Capitol before it was breached.

After the riot, Hawley faced a flood of condemnation and calls to resign — including from lawmakers like Bush, who said he was “not someone who I feel like that I need to have much communication with.”

Since that time, Hawley has gotten warm receptions from Republicans — most notably at the Missouri party’s Lincoln Days celebration in Kansas City last year. That’s where he declared: “I am not going anywhere. I refuse to be canceled. Because you refuse to be canceled.”

In an op-ed published on Tuesday on Fox News’ website, Hawley said: “Let me say again that those who committed crimes on January 6 should be prosecuted, just as those who rioted and burned and looted in cities around the nation in the name of ‘social justice’ should be as well.”

“2022 can be a new chapter if we take a stand against those who would use their power to terrorize and intimidate,” Hawley wrote. “This year, don’t give into fear. Don’t be shouted down. Don’t be intimidated. This year, let’s live instead by this maxim: We will not be afraid, because we are Americans.”

Bush noted that some of her Republican colleagues on the Jan. 6 committee, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have continued to speak out against Trump months after the failed attempt to overturn Biden’s election. But many of those lawmakers have faced a swift backlash from GOP voters and have either decided to retire — or in Cheney's case, are facing primary challenges.

GOP northern Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger chose not to run again after Democrats drew him into a district with fellow Republican Congressman Darin LaHood. He said in a web video released Tuesday that “some people say it’s time to move on from January 6 — but we can’t move on without addressing what happened or pretending it never happened.”

“That starts by admitting the facts: The 2020 election was not stolen. Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost,” Kinzinger said.

Still, many polls show that Republican voters still believe that Trump won the election in 2020, even though his numerous attempts to change the outcome failed in court.

Bush said that the best way to change the minds of individual people who continue to doubt the 2020 election results is to bring as much information to the public as possible.

“Making sure that the truth is out there is important,” she said.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum 

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