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Carter leaves Missouri Senate Freedom Caucus after 40-hour filibuster

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(The Center Square) – Approximately 12 hours after the Freedom Caucus in the Missouri Senate ended a 40-hour filibuster, one of its members resigned citing the behaviors and actions of the group.

Sen. Jill Carter, R-Joplin, said her departure is best to represent the members of her district.

“Over the past few months, it has become increasingly clear that the values and priorities that some current members of the Missouri State Freedom Caucus profess to champion are not reflected in conversations, behaviors or their strategy,” Carter said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “While I remain loyal to the same conservative principles and the advancement of legislation that benefits our state and my constituents, I can no longer, in good conscience, be part of behaviors and actions behind the scenes that defames grassroots and violates the needs of my constituents.”

The Freedom Caucus began their filibuster when debate on a bill to renew a tax on health care organizations to provide approximately $4 billion for the state’s Medicaid program was brought up for debate. Led by Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, the Freedom Caucus stated two demands as they began the filibuster.

First, they demanded Republican Gov. Mike Parson sign a bill to prohibit funding of organizations affiliated with abortion providers. Second, they wanted a bill changing how voters approve changes to the Missouri Constitution, passed in the House, be brought up for a vote in the Senate.

“I’m sick of weak-kneed so-called Republicans who let The Swamp govern them,” Eigel said in a statement issued by his campaign late Wednesday night. “The people sent me here, and I’ll fight with everything in me to advance our conservative agenda. A reckoning is coming.”

A coalition of Missouri’s largest health care organizations and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday issued a statement urging Eigel and the Freedom Caucus to immediately stop the filibuster blocking the legislation, known as the Federal Reimbursement Allowance.

“With only two weeks remaining to pass crucial legislation, it is imperative to remind Sen. Eigel that seeking higher office does not absolve him of his current duties,” according to the joint statement. “Effective governance requires more than grandstanding for media attention – it demands a steadfast commitment to serving the public.”

The Senate didn’t hold a session as it typically does on Thursday mornings and won’t convene until Monday afternoon. The deadline for completing the state budget is May 10. With only days remaining, there might not be enough time to resolve conflicts between the House and Senate versions of the budget.

“I think for the past three or four years now, it’s been, ‘Are they going to get it done in time?’” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and candidate for her party’s nomination for governor, told reporters Thursday. “And they always seem to manage to do so. But it wouldn’t be the first time that we would have to do a special (session) for the budget. So we’ll see what happens.”

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