U.S. Congresswoman and Ferguson frontliner Cori Bush this month announced her congressional subcommittee appointments: she will serve on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security as well as the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, within the House Judiciary Committee.
She was assigned to the Judiciary Committee in mid-December. Within the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, she will be serving on the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, as well as the Subcommittee on the Environment.
These subcommittee appointments will be a serious test of Bush’s ability to bring to life her promises to the people of St. Louis. They are, certainly, full of opportunity, and a welcome sign in what has been a tumultuous start to Bush’s congressional career:
First, the storming of the Capitol.
Then attacks from one of her fellow Congress members, noted Republican, racist, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose behavior ultimately caused Bush to relocate her office.
Bush’s appointments to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Subcommittee on the Environment are particularly prudent and commendable — and not just because they’re a big deal for a freshman congresswoman.
Having someone who, just last summer, stood with protesters and was tear-gassed with them in front of the Florissant Police Department now overseeing the Congressional Committee that investigates civil rights violations is a powerful image, to say the least.
At one point on a hot July evening, Bush paused while washing tear gas out of her own eyes to inquire after the well-being of one of this newspaper’s own reporters. That spirit is indicative of a nurse’s concern for others and a protester’s willingness to put herself in danger. It will be good to have a nurse on the committees overseeing the force doing the pepper spraying: she’s there to look out for us.
So, too, she is also on the subcommittee for the Environment. In late January, Bush partnered with U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, to introduce legislation that would develop a nationally-coordinated, interactive mapping tool to depict environmental violence.
Here, Bush brought a conversation that has been going on for years locally and in more activist circles nationwide onto the governmental stage: the fact that environmental injustice is racism.
The map that Bush and Markey outlined would help ensure that the Biden administration’s investments in environmental development would be targeted toward areas that have been most harmed by racist and unjust environmental practices.
From a St. Louis perspective, that appointment to the Subcommittee on the Environment means something. This region experiences no shortage of environmental racism.
It’s a place where Black children are 2.4 times more likely than white children to test positive for lead in their blood, and visit emergency rooms due to asthma 10 times more frequently than white children do.
It’s a city where nearly all major air pollution sources, according to a 2019 Washington University report, are located in communities of color, and more building demolitions occur in majority-Black neighborhoods — demolitions that release harmful dust, often containing asbestos and lead, into the air.
Bush’s meteoric rise to national prominence means that St. Louis gets to be in the national news for something good, which we know is rare enough here. Her national spotlight is in a sense a spotlight for Black St. Louis in particular.
So, Cori, keep fighting for us. Keep bringing St. Louis with you. Now more than ever.