Thirty-six demonstrators were arrested Tuesday on Capitol Hill after protesters descended on a Senate Budget Committee hearing to voice concerns with proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act that are in the Republican tax reform plan.
The committee met Tuesday to consider the Senate’s version of the GOP-backed tax code overhaul, which includes a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — a move that would have significant effects on insurance markets across the country.
Protesters, some of whom were in wheelchairs, interrupted the committee hearing with chants of “shame” and “kill the bill.”
“If this bill is passed, people like me will die,” one said. “Don’t kill us; kill the bill.”
The protesters were removed from the hearing by Capitol Police officers.
Videos showed some of the protesters being taken into custody by the Capitol Police outside the hearing room.
According to a statement from Capitol Police, 36 protesters were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress. Two of them were also charged with resisting arrest.
“Officers on the scene arrested the demonstrators when they failed to cease and desist with their unlawful demonstration activities in and around the Committee hearing room, resulting in the disruption of the hearing,” Capitol Police said.
The Senate committee, meanwhile, voted 12-11 along party lines to advance the legislation.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who sits on the committee, commented on the protests later in the hearing.
“I hate to see hearings disrupted by citizens. I hate that. I cringe when it happens. But what choice do they have? What choice do they have, when a finance committee refuses to allow a single hearing to hear from people about the rewriting of the American tax code for the first time in 32 years,” he said. “What choice do people have when the door is shut in their face. The stakes could not be higher. This is about every American family. This is about every American business. This is about the strength of the American economy.”
This story has been updated with more information about the arrests.