Missouri Senate leader removes several state senators from committees

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Senate’s top leader announced Tuesday that he has stripped several state senators of committee assignments.

Republican infighting hit a new level Tuesday as Senate leadership removed other GOP members from committee positions. Caleb Rowden, Senate President Pro Tem, announced several changes to committee assignments during a news conference Tuesday at the state capitol.

It’s been a tough start to the year for the Missouri Senate, with many Republicans holding the floor for hours. A surprise announcement Tuesday from Rowden removed members of the new Freedom Caucus from their committee assignments, a plan that could intensify the dysfunction.

“The beginning of the 2024 Legislative Session in the Senate has been nothing short of an embarrassment,” Rowden said. “A chamber designed to be occupied with civil, principal statesmen and women have been overtaken by a small group of swamp creatures who remind me all too often of my children than my colleagues.”

Despite the start of a new legislative session, infighting among Senate Republicans remains constant.

“This is going to be an interesting time in the state of Missouri,” Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said. “Just realize this is not our doing; this is their doing, trying to create this sort of environment in the Missouri Senate.

Rowden says members of the “Chaos Caucus,” a group of lawmakers more formally known as the “Freedom Caucus,” have “chosen to use the Missouri Senate as a place to try and salvage their languishing statewide campaigns and intentionally destroy the institution in an effort to claim the game is rigged against them.”

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According to Rowden, changes include the following…

  • Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warresnburg) was removed as Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Tax Policy and from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • Sen. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) was removed as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development, the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Pensions and as Chair of the Select Committee on the Protection of Missouri Assets From Foreign Adversaries.

  • Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-St. Louis County) was removed as Chair of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development.

  • Sen. Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles County) was removed as Chair of the Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Pensions.

Hoskins, Brattin, Koenig and Eigel all have ties to the Freedom Caucus, which consists of a group of hard-right Republican members. The group has reportedly been linked to some tensions and fillibusters in recent weeks.

“This is very disheartening and concerning that our leadership is not capable of leading,” Hoskins said. “We need new leadership in the Missouri Senate.”

Members of the Freedom Caucus said they’re tired of waiting to debate legislation that changes the initiative petition process and education reform.

“They have called us everything from narcissists to charlatans when all we want to do is pass big red policy ideas that were promised to the voters of this state every two years,” Eigel said.

Other Senate Republicans said they’ve been waiting for the Freedom Caucus to sit down so the Senate can once again start working.

“It’s time that we get to business,” Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, said. “We’re tired of having books read to us on the floor and valuable floor time being wasted.”

Besides being stripped of their committee hearings, the senators also had their parking spots removed from the Capitol’s basement garage. Their new spots are farther away from the Capitol.

For Eigel, Koenig and Hoskins, since they are no longer chairmen of committees, this means a funding loss to their office of around $10,000.

“These guys have wrecked this place and we’re going to fix it,” Rowden said Tuesday night.

Shortly after Rowden removed members of the Freedom Caucus from their committee assignments, Hoskins said he was disappointed in his Republican colleagues.

“Our President Pro Tem Rowden, as well as our Majority Floor Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, have not texted me, called me or asked me to come to their office to see if we can work out any differences,” Hoskins said. “Their lack of communication is very telling. Not one time has any of our leadership come to me and said, ‘Hey, let’s meet and see if we can figure it out.'”

Rowden said Tuesday that his action was the first step but there could be more to come.

“Missourians have demanded more of us,” said Rowden. “They have demanded progress, civility, and the passage of policies that will provide better schools, a stronger economy, and safer communities around this state.”

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Eigel, currently campaigning for the Missouri governor’s office, fired back and shared the following statement after Rowden’s announcement Tuesday:

“Jefferson City is ruled by a uniparty cartel of special interests, RINOs, and Democrats, who band together to crush the voice of the people. These are the same tactics The Swamp uses against President Trump. They can strip me of my chairmanship, they can kick me off committees, they can drag my name through the mud, but I am not backing down. They think this punishment will somehow deter me, but I am freer than I have ever been. I don’t work for the swamp. I work for the people, and the people are tired of spineless RINOs. We will push forward until initiative petition reform crosses the finish line—I will not stand idly by and allow Missouri’s pro-life laws to be destroyed.”

Across the aisle, Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, is calling on senators to move forward to work on common ground legislation like raising teacher pay and making child care more affordable.

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