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Biden invites expelled Tennessee lawmakers to White House

Biden invites expelled Tennessee lawmakers to White House

President Biden thanked the three Democratic state lawmakers who faced expulsion votes by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in Tennessee for their leadership in pushing for a ban on assault weapons.

Mr. Biden extended White House invitations to Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who were both voted out of the chamber, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, who narrowly avoided expulsion, after participating in a gun-control protest in the chamber. No date for the White House visit has been announced.

The Friday conference call adds to the administration’s loud rebuke of the Republican move to oust the lawmakers.

The three lawmakers led a protest on the state House floor last week without being recognized and used a bullhorn to support demonstrators who flooded the Capitol demanding lawmakers pass more gun control measures after three children and three adults were killed in the Covenant School shooting.

All three lawmakers, who refused dispersal orders by the sergeant at arms, were removed from their committee assignments following the demonstration.

Republicans then sought to oust the lawmakers under Article II, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution, which authorizes the House to punish members for “disorderly behavior.” The statute also permits the expulsion of a member if two-thirds of all lawmakers vote to do so.

Republicans control the Tennessee House by an overwhelming majority, with 75 members compared to the Democrats’ 23, with one vacancy. The expulsion threshold is 66 votes.

Mr. Biden condemned the expulsions on Thursday, calling the vote “shocking, undemocratic and without precedent.”

The president also reiterated his call for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as other gun control measures.

“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,” Mr. Biden said, adding that the measures will “save lives.”

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the lawmakers in person Friday in a stopover to meet with young people and advocates who are demanding action to address gun violence in the wake of the Covenant School shooting.

“While in Tennessee, the vice president will make clear what happened in Nashville, continue to call on Congress to renew the assault weapons ban and ensure that in Tennessee and across the nation, the voices of our young people are heard,” a White House official said.

Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.

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