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Cori Bush
Cori Bush 117th U.S Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded by Lacy Clay
Personal details
Born (1976-07-21) July 21, 1976 (age 48)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Other political
Democratic Socialists of America
Spouse Cortney Merritts (m. 2023)
Children 2
Education Lutheran School of Nursing

Cori Anika Bush (born July 21, 1976) is an American politician, nurse, pastor, and Black Lives Matter activist serving as the U.S. representative for Missouri's 1st congressional district, since 2021. The district includes all of the city of St. Louis and most of northern St. Louis County.

A member of the Democratic Party, on August 4, 2020, Bush defeated 10-term incumbent Lacy Clay in a 2020 U.S. House of Representatives primary election largely viewed as a historic upset, advancing to the November general election in a solidly Democratic congressional district. Bush is the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from Missouri. She previously ran in the Democratic primary for the district in 2018 and the 2016 U.S. Senate election in Missouri. She was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary Knock Down the House, which covered her first primary challenge to Clay. Bush is a member of The Squad in the House of Representatives.

Early life and education

Bush was born on July 21, 1976, in St. Louis and graduated from Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School in 1994. Her father, Errol Bush, is an alderman in Northwoods, Missouri and previously served as mayor. Bush studied at Harris–Stowe State University for one year (1995–96) and worked at a preschool until 2001. She earned a Diploma in Nursing from the Lutheran School of Nursing in 2008. From 2011 to 2014, she served as a pastor at Kingdom Embassy International Church.

Early career

In 2011, Bush established the Kingdom Embassy International Church in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a political activist in the 2014 Ferguson unrest, during which she worked as a triage nurse and organizer. She has said she was hit by a police officer. Bush is a Nonviolence 365 Ambassador with the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Bush was a candidate for the 2016 United States Senate election in Missouri. In the Democratic primary, she placed a distant second to Secretary of State Jason Kander. Kander narrowly lost the election to incumbent Republican Roy Blunt.

U.S. House of Representatives



In 2018, Bush launched a primary campaign against incumbent Democratic representative Lacy Clay in Missouri's 1st congressional district. Described as an "insurgent" candidate, Bush was endorsed by Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. Her campaign was featured in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House, alongside those of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, and Paula Jean Swearengin. Clay defeated Bush 56.7% to 36.9%.


Cori Bush 2020 salmon purple logo
Logo for Bush's 2020 congressional campaign

In 2020, Bush ran against Clay again. She was endorsed by progressive organizations, including Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement, and Brand New Congress, and she received personal endorsements from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, NY-16 Democratic nominee Jamaal Bowman, former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, activist Angela Davis, and West Virginia Democratic Senate nominee Paula Jean Swearengin.

Bush narrowly defeated Clay in the primary election in what was widely seen as an upset. Bush received 48.5% of the vote, winning St. Louis City and narrowly losing suburban St. Louis County. Her primary victory was considered tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic district. Her primary win ended the Clay family's 52-year hold on the district. Clay's father, Bill, won the seat in 1968 and was succeeded by his son in 2000. The district and its predecessors have been in Democratic hands for all but 17 months since 1909 and without interruption since 1911. No Republican has received more than 40% in the district since the late 1940s. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+29, it is easily the most Democratic district in Missouri and tied for the 23rd-most Democratic district in the country.

As expected, Bush won the general election handily, defeating Republican Anthony Rogers with 78 percent of the vote.


U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush Line 3 (51422857189)
Cori Bush with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib on September 3, 2021

Soon after being sworn in, Bush joined "The Squad", a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers. She posted a photo on Twitter of herself, the four original Squad members, and another new member, Bowman, with the caption "Squad up."

On January 6, 2021, hours after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed bid to overturn Donald Trump's loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Bush introduced a resolution to remove every Republican who supported attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election from the House of Representatives. In her support for Trump's second impeachment, Bush called the attack on the Capitol a "white supremacist insurrection" incited by the "white supremacist-in-chief".

In August 2021, Bush took a leading role in fighting to extend the CARES Act's eviction moratorium, sleeping on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to make her point; the CDC extended the moratorium on August 3.

On August 5, 2021, Bush defended spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for herself as a member of Congress while also saying Democrats should defund the police, saying, "I get to be here to do the work, so suck it up—and defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police." On November 5, 2021, Bush was one of six House Democrats to break with their party and vote with a majority of Republicans against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, because it was not accompanied by the Build Back Better Act.

In 2022, Bush secured $750,000 in Community Project Funding for expansions to the Urban League facilities in North St. Louis, as well as funding for other area service organizations.

As of July 2022, Bush had voted in line with Joe Biden's stated position 93.0% of the time.

Bush was among the 46 Democrats who voted against final passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 in the House.

Following Bush's introduction of a ceasefire resolution in 2023, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell announced his candidacy against her for the following election. Reports indicated that American Israel Public Affairs Committee has marked her and other members of "the Squad" for "high dollar challengers." Co-founder for LinkedIn, billionaire Reid Hoffman, has also expressed intentions to fund opponents of both Bush and Tlaib.

On January 30, 2024, Bush confirmed reports that she was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged misuse of federal security money. The Office of Congressional Ethics previously investigated the same allegations and voted unanimously to dismiss the case after finding no evidence of wrongdoing.

For the 2024 fiscal year, Bush secured more than $13 million in federal earmarks to fund projects in the St. Louis area, including emergency food and shelter services and redevelopment for a housing complex. Total federal funds to Missouri were reduced from previous cycles as neither Missouri senator requested funds.

Foreign and defense policy

In September 2021, Bush was one of eight Democrats to vote against the funding of Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

She condemned Hamas's October 2023 attack on Israel. On October 16, 2023, Bush introduced a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel–Hamas war. She condemned Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Public transportation

Bush and congressional allies, including Senator Roy Blunt, successfully advocated for the Federal Transit Administration Climate Relief Fund. According to Bush, "that fund was going to have zero dollars in it" to repair damage to public transit systems from severe storms and flooding across the years 2017, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Bush threatened to withhold her vote for the budget if FTA funds were not included.

Committee assignments

For the 118th Congress:

  • Committee on Oversight and Accountability
    • Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs
  • Committee on the Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance
    • Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Cori Bush, July 2020
Bush during the George Floyd protests in July 2020

..... She was endorsed by, and is a member of, the Democratic Socialists of America. Bush supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has called Israel an "apartheid state." She stands "unwaveringly with Black Lives Matter's demands".

During her campaign, Bush advocated defunding the United States Armed Forces. After receiving criticism from California Representative Kevin McCarthy and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, Bush clarified that she supported the reallocation of defense funding to healthcare and low-income communities.

After supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, Bush introduced a resolution to investigate and expel members of the House who promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. On January 29, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accepted her request, Bush changed offices from the Longworth House Office Building after Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene "berated" her and her staff in a hallway and refused to wear a mask. Greene accused Bush of calling for violence against a couple involved in the controversial July 2020 march through a gated St. Louis street.

Personal life

Bush lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She has two children and has been married twice. For 14 months, she and her then-husband lived in their car with the young children after being evicted because of loss of income after illness during her second pregnancy made it necessary for her to quit her preschool job. In February 2023, Bush married Cortney Merritts, a security specialist and U.S. Army veteran.

In May 2021, Bush testified to the House Oversight and Reform Committee that during her first pregnancy, she informed her doctor of severe pain but was ignored, and as a result went into pre-term labor. She attributed this to "harsh and racist treatment" that Black women face during pregnancy and childbirth. In a subsequent tweet, she wrote, "Every day, Black birthing people and our babies die because our doctors don't believe our pain."

Electoral history


2016 United States Senate election in Missouri Democratic primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jason Kander 223,492 69.9
Democratic Cori Bush 42,453 13.3
Democratic Chief Wana Dubie 30,432 9.5
Democratic Robert Mack 23,509 7.4
Total votes 319,886 100.00%


Missouri 1st Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lacy Clay (incumbent) 81,426 56.7
Democratic Cori Bush 53,056 36.9
Democratic Joshua Shipp 4,959 3.5
Democratic DeMarco K. Davidson 4,229 2.9
Total votes 143,670 100.0


Missouri 1st Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Cori Bush 73,274 48.5
Democratic Lacy Clay (incumbent) 68,887 45.6
Democratic Katherine Bruckner 8,850 5.9
Total votes 151,011 100.0
Missouri's 1st Congressional District General Election, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Cori Bush 249,087 78.7
Republican Anthony Rogers 59,940 18.9
Libertarian Alex Furman 6,766 2.1
Write-in 378 0.1
Total votes 316,171 100.0


Missouri 1st Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2022
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Cori Bush 65,208 69.5
Democratic Steve Roberts 24,973 26.6
Democratic Michael Daniels 1,682 1.8
Democratic Ron Harshaw 1,063 1.1
Democratic Earl Childress 926 1.0
Total votes 93,852 100.0

See also

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