Updated Apr 24, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden welcomes "Tennessee Three" to White House

Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with Tennessee Democrats expelled from the Tennessee state legislature over gun control protest Justin Jones (2nd L), Justin Pearson (R) and Gloria Johnson

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris meet with Tennessee Democrats Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Tennessee lawmakers who were at the center of a historic expulsion effort earlier this month are expected to meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday.

Why it matters: Their expulsions triggered a national outcry, igniting a discussion about racism, gun violence, and democratic norms.

Known as the "Tennessee Three," state Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson participated in a gun reform protest on the House floor in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.

  • The state House's GOP supermajority spearheaded an effort to expel them on the basis that they violated the chamber's rules and engaged in disorderly behavior.
  • Jones and Pearson, who are Black, were expelled. Johnson, who is white, survived an expulsion by one vote.
  • Both expelled lawmakers have since been temporarily reinstated to their positions and have indicated they intend to run in the special elections to select permanent replacements for their seats.

The big picture: Experts have warned that the effort to expel the Tennessee Three could have ripple effects in other state legislatures across the country by encouraging majority party lawmakers to use House rules to expel minority party members with diverging views.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing Friday that Biden was looking forward to meeting the trio and discussing "how to move forward with commonsense gun reform; how to move forward on protecting our communities, our kids, our churches."

The live updates for this story has ended.

Biden said his administration had achieved the "most extensive gun legislation in 30 years" but warned "there's more to do" in the fight for gun control.

  • "On so many issues, you've been out front and you understand exactly what it's like," Biden told the lawmakers.
  • "Nothing's guaranteed about democracy, every generation has to fight for it," he added. "And you all are doing just that."

Biden lauded the state lawmakers' stances on gun reform and said more progress must be made to advance gun control legislation.

  • "You're standing up for our kids, you're standing up for our communities," Biden told the trio, per a White House pool report.
  • Biden also called the GOP-led effort to oust the lawmakers "shocking" and "undemocratic."
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