A large group of protesters, furious about the healthcare bill that Senate Republicans have been struggling to pass, descended on the U.S. Capitol on Monday to demonstrate against the bill.
Over the last several hours, the protesters—many of whom represented National Nurses United, the largest registered union of nurses in the country—flooded the offices of at least six Republican senators. At least 80 have reportedly been arrested or detained by U.S. Capitol Police officers, according to reports from NBC News and Politico.
When the protesters were asked to leave individual senators’ offices, they sat in the hallways outside to continue chanting.
In Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s office, one woman held back tears as she spoke to a staffer in Flake’s office.
“So many people will die, including myself, if you pass this law. I don’t want to die,” the unidentified woman said. “I don’t think he’s inhuman—and I’m asking that, for him to just remember that. And for him to represent me and all of us.”
“I can’t live like this anymore,” the woman added. “I have 16 chronic illnesses.”
One woman was forcibly escorted to the elevator bank, shouting, “You are killing people! You are systematically killing people!” and “healthcare is a human right” until the elevator doors closed.
Several protesters sat down to chant “shame” outside Sen. Ted Cruz’s office. Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, has long been one of Obamacare’s most fierce critics.
But soon after, the protesters were dragged away:
In Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s office, protesters chanted “I don’t want to die’ and “healthcare is a human right”:
All seven protesters in Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey’s office were arrested, according to Vox reporter Jeff Stein.
The protests continued in North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr’s office, where a staffer told the assembled group that no bill even exists for them to protest.
One woman told the staffer they were clearly talking about the Better Care Reconciliation Act, about which Burr has already made several statements.
“We’re constituents,” another protester said. “We’re all constituents.”
As arrests began, other protesters staged a sit-in at Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s office.
Portman, who’s considered more of a moderate Republican than most other senators in his party, has been a major target for protesters who hope he’ll oppose austere Medicaid cuts and all other aspects of the Republican healthcare bill.
Last Friday, 15 protesters from the disability rights group ADAPT were arrested after a two-day demonstration in Portman’s Columbus, Ohio, office. According to a tweet sent out by Columbus police, the 15 protesters will be charged with criminal trespassing because they refused to leave Portman’s office.
The group of protesters, many of whom carried matching signs that said “Trumpcare = Death,” weren’t the only advocates working to change the legislator’s mind.
A smaller group called Little Lobbyists, which has no apparent connection to the protesters who were arrested, also visited senators to lobby against the Republicans’ bill on Monday. The Little Lobbyists include children with highly specialized medical conditions who traveled with their parents to explain why their continued access to healthcare is a matter of life and death.
The children met with several Democrats who’ve already expressed fervent opposition to the bill, including Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
The protests are ongoing, and it isn’t clear how many have been arrested and detained.
As of now, it doesn’t look like the current version of the Republican bill will have enough votes to pass—but on Monday morning, Toomey, who did not meet with the protesters in his office, promised a new version of the bill was on its way.
Update, 5:24 PM ET: At least 80 protesters have been arrested as a result of widespread demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, according to Politico congressional reporter Elana Schor. The U.S. Capitol Police have not yet responded to a request for additional information about the arrests or the nature of the charges the protesters might face.
Update 2, 7/11/17, 10:40 AM ET: A spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police confirmed that 80 protesters were arrested over the course of Monday’s demonstration, after groups in 13 different locations across the Capitol office buildings refused to leave. The protesters will be charged with violating a municipal code prohibiting crowding and obstruction, the spokesperson said.