Rep. Cori Bush

Democrat, Missouri’s 1st Congressional District

Fast Facts

Rising Progressive Star


Vignette, a service through National Journal Research, is an essential tool for government affairs teams that need to understand the people behind the policies. 

Click here to request a demo of the Vignette database, or email to speak to someone about your access.

No, Cori Bush is not a member of the administration. But the first-term congresswoman from Missouri is becoming a key figure in ensuring that the White House keeps its promises on racial equality and social justice.

Bush has been called the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the 2020 cycle after her ouster of longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary. But she had cut her teeth politically long before. A nurse and ordained pastor who founded a church in St. Louis, she helped organize protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, including providing support as a medic and holding worship services in a local school. She eventually became a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement and cofounded The Truth Telling Project, an organization that shares the stories of people who have experienced police violence.

Given those bona fides, Bush hasn’t shied away from taking stands on controversial issues. In her first days in Congress, she called for the expulsion of Republican lawmakers who had voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results. She’s spoken in favor of a bill to study the issue of reparations for slavery. In an op-ed late last year, she asked the president-elect to grant clemency to all death-row inmates.

Approach and Motivations

Excerpted from Cori‘s Vignette profile

Leverages her grassroots-activism experience and working-class background to connect with constituents; says she will be a pragmatic progressive in Congress

  • Deeply informed by her experience as a single mother working minimum-wage jobs who lived “paycheck to paycheck”; experienced homelessness after being evicted and lived out of her car for several months
  • Gave up her employer-sponsored health insurance to run for office and had to pay out of pocket for two hospitalizations for a suspected case of COVID-19; cites this experience as one of her reasons to support Medicare-for-all
  • Balanced protesting and campaigning in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; called out the incumbent for not participating in protests and said she would be more responsive to the needs of the district
  • Developed a national profile from her association with other famous Justice Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez, and from the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House,about their 2018 congressional campaigns
  • Plans to take a pragmatic approach in Congress and says she’ll stand apart from Democrats when necessary but try to work with them whenever possible; stated that everything she does is “through a racial-justice lens”

Not a Vignette subscriber? You can purchase a digital book with in-depth profiles on everyone featured in this special report.

To learn more about Vignette, or see the platform in action, request a demo here