Senate blockade ends, but budget crunch has Missouri lawmakers worried (2024)

JEFFERSON CITY — A small faction of Missouri senators set a record for futility early Thursday when they ended a more than 40-hour filibuster without winning any of their publicly stated demands.

The five remaining Senate members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus dropped their blockade at about 3:30 a.m., allowing Republican leaders to position a key piece of the state budget for Senate passage when they return Monday.

The splinter group, who read books and aired grievances while they held the floor for 41 hours, had sought to force a final vote on a proposal to make it harder for citizens to change the Missouri Constitution through a ballot initiative. They also wanted Gov. Mike Parson to sign a measure banning Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid payments.

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Senate leaders and the governor didn’t budge.

In a radio interview Thursday on KCMO, Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, said the filibuster was not about legislation pending in the Senate, but aimed at boosting the profile of Freedom Caucus members as they seek statewide office.

He accused the filibuster ringleader, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, of trying to earn free media for his run for governor.

“That’s all this is about. Getting them attention,” Cierpiot said, adding that the faction’s behavior is an indication of “how unserious these people are about moving public policy forward.”

The delay in the Senate, however, has put the approval of the state budget in a significant time crunch.

Lawmakers are required to have the spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 completed by May 10.

The House has done its work, but the Senate has not brought the budget to the floor. Typically, the Senate would approve its budget and open the door to negotiations with the House, easing the way for both chambers to finish their work.

While the Senate can get their budget done by next Friday, there are doubts whether that leaves enough time for negotiations with the lower chamber.

That scenario has House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, worried.

“I’m certainly growing more concerned about our ability to go to conference,” Smith said. “That seems increasingly more unlikely.”

The next step, if the two sides cannot finish by the deadline, could be an overtime session stretching into June where the budget process would have to start over from scratch.

Rather than hitting the road to campaign for the August primary, lawmakers would be in the Capitol, trying to hash out an agreement to avoid a shutdown of government operations.

“Nobody wants that. I would much prefer to get the budget done in the regular session,” Smith said.

Among the pressure points that could arise are spending shortfalls for the Medicaid program and public schools, Smith said.

Despite the time crunch, the Capitol was quickly emptying out at 9 a.m. Thursday with no plans to return until Monday afternoon.

More stalling could happen next week.

Members of the Freedom Caucus, including Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, say they plan to go through the budget line-by-line, potentially drawing out the process even longer.

The Senate version of the spending blueprint is about $53 billion, spread across nearly 20 bills. The House version is about $2 billion less than the package in the Senate.

The end-of-session dysfunction drew the attention of Democrats.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, told reporters there are growing concerns about the Republican Party’s ability to govern.

“When Republicans have the governor’s office and both majorities in the House and Senate, they could have gotten this done with plenty of wiggle room left over before the deadline,” said Quade, who is running for governor.

“The biggest thing to note, again, is that we have one party that is in control of everything, and they can’t get along long enough to be able to pass our budget, which is the one thing that we are constitutionally required to do,” Quade added.


Gridlock in Missouri Senate could set a record

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Missouri Senate remains divided as splinter group talkathon moves into second day

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Hard-line Republicans stall action in Missouri Senate, find little traction on issues

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In budget gamesmanship, Missouri lawmakers could see doomsday spending plan

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  • Missouri Legislature
  • Election 2024
  • Gov. Mike Parson
  • Medicaid
  • State-government

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Senate blockade ends, but budget crunch has Missouri lawmakers worried (2024)


Senate blockade ends, but budget crunch has Missouri lawmakers worried? ›

Senate blockade ends, but budget crunch has Missouri lawmakers worried. JEFFERSON CITY — A small faction of Missouri senators set a record for futility early Thursday when they ended a more than 40-hour filibuster without winning any of their publicly stated demands.

Who presides over the senate in Missouri? ›

The Lieutenant Governor is president and presiding officer of the Senate. In his absence, the President Pro Tem, who is elected by the Senate members, presides.

What are the requirements to be a senator in Missouri? ›

Senators are elected for four-year terms and may only serve two terms. To be eligible, a person must be at least 30 years old, a qualified voter in the state for three years and a resident of the district for one year.

How much does a Missouri senator make? ›

Missouri Senate
Salary$35,915/year + per diem
Last electionNovember 8, 2022 (17 seats)
Next electionNovember 5, 2024 (17 seats)
23 more rows

Who controls the Senate in Missouri? ›

In 2001, the Republican party won the Missouri Senate majority for the first time since 1948. Current party split is 23 Republicans and nine Democrats. The geographic size of Missouri's 34 state senatorial districts ranges from a few square miles in some urban areas to 15 counties in some rural areas.

How many years can members of the Missouri Senate serve? ›

Currently, 26 state senators previously served in the House. State senators are limited to two four-year terms and representatives are limited to four two-year terms.

Who is the senior senator from Missouri? ›

Josh Hawley | United States Senator for Missouri.

What is the minimum age for a senator? ›

The Constitution sets three qualifications for service in the U.S. Senate: age (at least thirty years of age); U.S. citizenship (at least nine years); and residency in the state a senator represents at time of election.

Who presides over the Senate? ›

The vice president of the United States is designated as the president of the Senate.

Who presides rules over the Senate? ›

The Constitution names the vice president of the United States as the president of the Senate. In addition to serving as presiding officer, the vice president has the sole power to break a tie vote in the Senate and formally presides over the receiving and counting of electoral ballots cast in presidential elections.

Who presides over the Missouri Supreme Court? ›

Founded in 1820, the Missouri Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort and has seven judgeships. The current chief of the court is Mary Rhodes Russell. As of November 2023, two judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor and five judges were appointed by a Republican governor.

Who are the two senators of Missouri? ›

Missouri was admitted to the Union on August 10, 1821. Its current U.S. senators are Republicans Josh Hawley (class 1, serving since 2019) and Eric Schmitt (class 3, serving since 2023).


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