Tennessee lawmakers who faced expulsion to visit White House

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday plans to welcome to the White House the three Tennessee lawmakers who faced expulsion for participating in gun control protests at their statehouse.

The episode has turned the lawmakers, known as the “Tennessee three,” into Democratic heroes. Vice President Kamala Harris already visited Nashville earlier this month to show her support.

The statehouse protest took place days after the shooting at the Covenant School, a private Christian school where three children and three adults were killed. The three lawmakers – Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Gloria Johnson – approached the front of the House chamber with a bullhorn as protesters filled the galleries.

The Republicans who control the Tennessee legislature called for their expulsion because they disrupted House proceedings. Pearson and Jones, both Black, were expelled, while Johnson was not.

Pearson and Jones were later reinstated on an interim basis by local officials, and they plan to run in a special election to finish their terms.

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that Biden was “proud” and “appreciative” to see the three state representatives calling for stronger gun restrictions, particularly a ban on so-called assault weapons.

During a phone call earlier this month, Biden thanked them “for speaking out and for standing their ground, and being very clear about what’s needed to protect their communities,” Jean-Pierre said.

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