Rep. Cori Bush, a progressive representing the state of Missouri, slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol starting on Friday to bring attention to the faded moratorium on evictions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bush has been open about her experience being unhoused in the past, including living in a car with her family after they had been evicted from their home. Bush told CNN that because they were technically not allowed to lay down on the Capitol steps, she slept mostly sitting up in a chair and bundled up in blankets.
As of Tuesday, the Biden administration finally issued a new moratorium on eviction that will last until Oct. 3. While many of her colleagues left Washington, D.C., for vacations or to enjoy the comforts of home, Bush explained that she simply couldn’t let the issue go. In an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday, Bush stressed that she knows what it’s like to be evicted and, “As long as I am a sitting U.S. congressperson, I will not keep my mouth shut about it.”
Other progressives joined Bush in protest, including Reps. Jimmy Gomez of California, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. "Eviction is already violent,” Pressley told CNN in an interview. “But to evict people in the midst of a pandemic is cruel, inhumane, unacceptable and 100% preventable.”
“She wasn't going to give up,” Gomez told Politico in reference to Bush. “And then we didn’t give up on her either,” adding that they were a “team” in trying to push the administration to act.
In speaking to MSNBC about why she protested outside of the Capitol, Bush explained in part, “I said when I ran for office that if there is anything that I could do to prevent other people, especially the people of St. Louis, from going through what I went through, all of those hardships, I would do it.”
"When we found out that we had been recessed and that people were already on planes, going on vacation, going back home,” she continued to the station. “My brain… My heart couldn't understand how we leave 11 million, 6 million families... possibly being forced out of their homes.”
When news broke that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adopted the eviction moratorium, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts congratulated Bush and gave her a hug, as captured on video. “I used to ask myself a question,” Warren told Bush. “‘Does it matter that I’m here instead of somebody else?’ And you’ve now answered that question. It matters that you’re here, not someone else.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York also told Bush and Ocasio-Cortez that they were “fabulous” for the work they were doing.
But the praise did not end with in-person accolades. Let’s check out what Twitter has to say.
Bush also offered up some inspiration to those who were impressed and moved by her actions. “You don’t have to have a big name and a big title,” Bush told activists outside the Capitol. “You don’t have to have big money. But big courage takes you a long way. Big purpose takes you a long way.”
Sign the petition: Thank Cori Bush for her leadership, and urge all members of Congress to help finish the job.