Battle of Wills Rages on in #MOLeg As Leadership Floats Expulsion, Freedom Caucus Calls for Resignations

If you thought things would soon simmer down in the Missouri legislature (specifically, the Senate) following the shining of a national spotlight on the internecine warfare being waged by and between the Republican supermajority, you thought wrong.


READ MORE: Bad Blood in #MOLeg As Senate Prez Strips Freedom Caucus Leaders of Committee Chairs, Parking Spots

After tensions boiled over between members of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Senate leadership, with leadership stripping caucus members of their committee chairmanships and parking spots, they continued to ratchet up. Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Loughlin suggested fellow Republican Bill Eigel should be expelled from the Senate — and when pressed on the matter, confirmed she would “absolutely” vote to remove him. 

Speaking to the assembled editors and publishers from the Missouri Press Association during their annual visit to the Capitol, O’Laughlin noted that expelling a senator takes 23 votes of the 34-member chamber.

“Two years ago, I said with 23 votes, you can throw somebody out of here,” she said. “And I would do it today.”

Asked who she meant, O’Laughlin named Sen. Bill Eigel.

“I would have to have 23 votes and get 23 votes, I’ll have to get some Democrats to vote for it and then I’ll have to give up something big,” O’Laughlin said. “So….everything here is a trade off you know.”

Soon after the remarks were reported on social media by The Independent, the door to the Senate Lounge, where O’Laughlin was speaking, opened and a Senate doorman said Eigel wanted to talk to her on the floor.

She said she was busy and not available.

A few moments later, the door opened again. Again, O’Laughlin was being summoned to answer questions from Eigel.

“Well, I am busy, so tell him I am not here,” she replied.

When her time was up, and she returned to the floor, she found an angry Eigel demanding to know if what had been reported was true.

“I am not the first senator willing to stand up for my principles and I’ll stay here till Christmas if I have to,” Eigel said.

“I don’t think at anytime, in this chamber, anyone has tied up the floor and stopped every senator from advancing their bills more than you,” O’Laughlin responded.

After repeatedly asking O’Laughlin if she would vote to expel him from the Senate, Eigel got his answer.

“I’d vote for it, yeah,” she said. “I absolutely would.”


Eigel, who’s currently running for governor of Missouri, had a little video fun with his response(s): 

On Saturday, O’Loughlin joined the “Randy Tobler Show” on NewsTalkSTL to discuss the ongoing skirmish. 

Asked first by Tobler (jokingly) what the weapon of choice would be for the duel suggested by state Senator Nick Schroer (also jokingly), O’Loughlin responded with, “Nick is a very emotional young man…but, you know, I guess that’s one solution.” 


Missouri Proposal Would Allow Senators to Challenge Each Other to a Duel to Settle Differences
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Tobler then asked about O’Loughlin’s call for Eigel’s expulsion from the Senate. Her response: 

“Well, I was speaking to a group of press from around the state of Missouri, and we were talking about the state of affairs in the Senate, and I explained to them our current state of affairs, which is, basically, that we have two groups of people, both of them outraged at each other, and it just seems to keep escalating. And I talked about Senator Eigel telling everyone that I was a terrible leader, and, you know, need to be thrown out of my position, and said, you know, Senator Eigel needs to realize that with 23 votes, he could be thrown out of the Senate — sort of jokingly, but, you know, it was a poor choice of words. It’s hard to be in this position and not either get drug down one direction or the other. But that’s not really my job to do that.” 

O’Loughlin maintained she’s been doing her part to try and make sure everyone’s bills/priorities get a fair shake, and feels she did a decent job of that in her role as Majority Leader last year, but indicated it seems like some are holding on to hard feelings from years past and digging in further. But, as she noted, “This is an election year and, you know, on social media and other places, I think outrage sells. So, you have a lot of outrage.” 


As Tobler noted during the interview, Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden did ultimately refer all bills filed so far this session to committee on Thursday, but the Freedom Caucus stood firm, resuming their filibuster of Governor Mike Parson’s appointees until the Senate passes initiative petition (IP) reform. 

On Monday, Eigel joined the “Mike Ferguson in the Morning Show” (also on NewsTalkSTL – click Marker 2) to give his own update on the state of play in the Senate. 

Eigel said the focus remains on IP reform and asserted that as a result of the pressure the Freedom Caucus has brought to bear, Rowden referred the bills to committee (as noted above) and that they’d secured a commitment that the bills would be heard in committee on Monday. He pointed out that while IP reform passed both the Missouri House and Senate in 2023, leadership didn’t prioritize reconciling the bills and getting them over the finish line, indicating a divergence between the will of the majority of the members and leadership. 

Asked about O’Loughlin’s call for his expulsion, Eigel said it’s an indication that Senate leadership is trying to silence the Freedom Caucus and accused O’Loughlin of adopting tactics similar to those employed by the left against former President Donald Trump. He noted that he’s been elected twice by voters in his district and attributed O’Loughlin’s expulsion call to personality conflict, stating, “What matters in Cindy O’Loughlin’s mind is that I make her uncomfortable.” 


Eigel followed that with the revelation that Monday, the Freedom Caucus was putting out an official statement collectively calling for the resignation of both O’Loughlin and Rowden from their leadership positions, adding that “We don’t feel like, as Republicans, that we should be having to put this level of effort into getting Republican priorities passed.”

The official statement may be viewed below: 

In sum, it provides that “In a display of good will and dedication to moving forward,” and in response to the IP reform bills being referred to and heard in committee, Freedom Caucus senators would agree to release the majority of pending gubernatorial appointments. It firmly rejects the notion of expelling any senators, but it also calls formally for Rowden’s and O’Loughlin’s resignation from leadership. 

So, it appears some progress was made on Monday. Tuesday, a protest is planned at the state Capitol in support of the Freedom Caucus. Will more progress follow? Stay tuned…


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