As of Tuesday, more than 2,000 people have signed their names to a petition asking House leadership to expel Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, who in November won election to his fourth term in the lower chamber.
Bost was one of two Illinois congresspersons to object to the certification of electoral votes last week that signified Joe Biden had won the U.S. presidential election. The other was fellow southern Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland. Bost also signed onto a Texas lawsuit that attempted to delegitimize the presidential vote in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The petition was sparked by growing outrage over last week's terrifying breach of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob bent on stopping Congress from certifying the election for Biden.
"We ask that the House Speaker and Majority Leader expel Mike Bost for voting to approve the seditious objections to the election of Joe Biden for President, as well as signing onto State of Texas v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al lawsuit," the petition, posted to Move on by a user identified as Mikki Gray, reads.
"His decision to vote in the affirmative to overturn a free and fair election further demonstrates how out of touch he is with the will of the people in this district."
Attempts to reach Gray on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Bost spokeswoman Alex Naughton said Tuesday that the congressman stands by his objections from last week, and urges upset constituents to recognize his "carefully considered" vote.
"We understand that this is a very difficult moment for our country; and we continue to welcome feedback from constituents whether they agree with the congressman or not," Naughton said in an emailed statement. "We just hope that those who are calling for a resignation or reprimand recognize that his vote was carefully considered, constitutionally based, and with a commitment toward moving this country forward."
Bost, who served a long career in the Illinois House before ascending to the U.S. Congress in 2014, has been one of Trump's staunch allies in the House. Trump traveled to Murphysboro in 2018 to stump for Bost prior to the midterm elections.
The petition carries no legal weight. Expulsion from Congress is laid out briefly in the U.S. Constitution, which says either house may "punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a member." The option has been exercised by Congress only a handful of times, most prominently as punishment of pro-Confederate members during the Civil War era.
The last member of Congress to be expelled was Ohio Democratic congressman Jim Traficant in 2002 after he was convicted on multiple counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.
And although Democrats maintain control of the House, they currently are dozens of votes short of the two-thirds majority required to expel a member, meaning significant Republican support would be required in order to expel any of the GOP objectors to the election results.
The petition against Bost seeks 3,000 signatures, and as of Tuesday morning had garnered just over two-thirds of that. Move on, a progressive policy advocacy organization founded in the late 1990s, is a frequent online host for progressive activism and currently contains several user-created petitions directed against U.S. senators and representatives for their recent votes questioning the integrity of the election. None has any binding effect, and anyone can apparently create a petition on MoveOn's main page.
Bost defended his own votes in a Facebook post shortly after making them.
"As a United States representative, I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, no matter how difficult or divisive the issue at hand. And when it comes to certifying a state's electoral votes, the Constitution is clear: state legislatures set the rules for states in conducting their elections. However, that simply was not the case in certain states in 2020," he wrote. "Two states in particular, Pennsylvania and Arizona, faced objections in the House and Senate to their electoral vote allocations, prompting floor votes in both chambers. I voted to object to the electoral votes of both states because, in my belief, they failed to meet that constitutional standard."
He and Miller were two of 147 House Republicans to object to certification on those grounds. There has been no evidence presented that either Arizona's or Pennsylvania's vote was mishandled, and neither state presented a second set of electors to the House.
15th District U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland, also objected to the certification of electoral votes last week, saying Americans have "lost confidence in the fairness of our electoral system."