A Senate hearing on Monday for the Republicans’ latest bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act was met by hundreds of protesters who managed to shut down the meeting almost immediately.
The volume of protest against the bill, a tweaked version of the dead-on-arrival version written by Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham—which has been blatantly drafted with provisions aimed at winning over certain swing votes like Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski—is an indication of just how odious it is. Estimates have found that, along with cutting more than $200 billion in federal healthcare spending by 2026, it would kick 21 million people off their health insurance.
But as soon as Finance Committee chairman Senator Orrin Hatch opened the hearing, protesters started chanting “No cuts to Medicaid!” Hatch responded, “You better shut up!” Minutes later, he put the hearing in recess until order could be restored inside the chamber.
“If you can’t be in order, then get the heck out of here,” Hatch reportedly said as the protesters were removed.
Reporters in the hearing documented protesters, included some with the disability rights group ADAPT, being dragged out of the hearing room:
Cassidy, for his part, appeared nonplussed as people with disabilities, who told reporters his bill would be akin to “death,” were removed from the room:
Although there were reportedly only about 20 seats made available to the public and around six spaces for wheelchairs in the hearing room—and none of the hundreds of people gathered got their chance to tell the Republicans how Graham-Cassidy would drastically affect their lives—there were some bright moments showcasing the power of direct action, like this video of Graham facing ear-shatteringly thunderous chants of “SHAME!” as he entered the room: