President Biden blasted the expulsion of two Tennessee lawmakers Thursday as “shocking” and “undemocratic,” saying that GOP lawmakers chose to expel lawmakers instead of participating in a discussion about gun reforms.
“Last week, three more students and three school officials were gunned down in yet another tragic mass shooting in Nashville,” Biden said in a statement. “On Monday, 7,000 Tennesseans, many of them students, marched to their state capitol to call on their lawmakers to take action and keep them safe.”
“Instead, state Republican lawmakers called votes today to expel three Democratic legislators who stood in solidarity with students and families and helped lift their voices,” he continued.
The Tennessee Republican-controlled House voted on whether to expel a trio of Democratic lawmakers after they participated in a protest on the House floor against gun violence. The House voted to expel Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and state Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) for their participation in the recent demonstrations, but Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), who also participated in the protest, survived her vote.
The three lawmakers had joined a protest on the House floor calling for gun reforms in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville last week that took the lives of six people, including three 9-year-old children. As a result, the lawmakers were stripped of their committee assignments and underwent a vote to expel each of them, which prompted hundreds of people to protest the effort to remove them.
“Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent,” Biden said. “Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.”
Biden used Thursday’s vote to reiterate his call for gun reform, again calling on Congress and state officials to pass an assault weapons and high capacity magazines ban. He also repeated his calls for other gun safety reform measures, including requiring safe storage of fireman’s and require background checks for every gun purchase.
“A strong majority of Americans want lawmakers to act on commonsense gun safety reforms that we know will save lives,” he said. “But instead, we’ve continued to see Republican officials across America double down on dangerous bills that make our schools, places of worship, and communities less safe. Our kids continue to pay the price.”
Democrat lawmakers in both the House and Senate denounced the vote Thursday, calling the move undemocratic, racist and facist. The White House earlier condemned the proposed vote, describing it as “unprecedented.”