On Monday, Senate Republicans held their one and only hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill, their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Throngs of activists descended on the Senate to protest the historically-unpopular bill, and during the demonstration, protesters were dragged from the Graham-Cassidy hearing, including several women in a wheelchairs. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who was chairing the meeting, called for a recess while the protesters were removed, then continued the session without them.
“If you want a hearing, you’d better shut up,” Hatch told the protesters, many of whom were from the disability rights group ADAPT. "If the hearing is going to devolve into a sideshow or a forum for simply putting partisan points on the board, there's absolutely no reason for us to be here." Nevertheless, the chants of "no cuts to Medicaid" and "save our liberty" continued.
“If you can’t be in order, then get the heck out of here," Hatch said after capital police ejected the disabled protesters.
Disabled Protesters Removed
Police physically Dragged several protesters who were in wheelchairs out of the Senate hearing, including the woman above.
Dragged On His Knees
Many of the protesters continued their chants even as they were being ejected from the building.
Trail Mix For Jail
According to Vox's Jeff Stein, this protester has a degenerative spine disease. He told Stein that, anticipating he'd be arrested, he packed trail mix with him to eat in jail.
"Save Our Liberty"
An activist from ADAPT shouts "no cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!" as police remove her.
Protesters In Line
Timelapse video from earlier in the day showed the line of protesters stretching across multiple buildings in anticipation of the hearing.
Pizza For Protesters
Sen. Ron Wyden, a staunch opponent of the Graham-Cassidy bill, arranged for pizza to be delivered to the protesting activists.
Seven Wheelchair Limit
One protester told Vox that Senate Republicans filled the chamber with chairs, then announced that only seven wheelchairs would be allowed to attend the hearing.
Video from the hearing shows Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the bill's co-sponsors, yawning as activists are dragged from the room.
As the hearings were underway, the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary analysis of Republicans' bill, concluding that it would leave "millions" of additional people uninsured and pave the way for "much more expensive" insurance for Americans with preexisting conditions.
Blind Protesters Removed
Capital police removed a blind activist and a woman with no arms or legs from the Senate during the protests.
Hatch told protesters to "shut up" before they were dragged from the building.
During the hearing, the prospects of Graham-Cassidy passing plummeted: After the CBO released its analysis of the bill, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said that she would vote against it. That made her the third Republican Senator, alongside Rand Paul and John McCain, to announce their opposition to the bill. Because Republicans can only afford to lose two votes from their own members and still pass the bill, Collins' opposition appeared to be a death blow to the legislation.
However, the GOP still has until September 30th to pass the bill with a bare majority, and Republican leadership will likely be lobbying Paul, McCain and Collins hard over the next week to convince them to change their minds. Progressive activists on Twitter urged Obamacare supporters to continue calling their senators in opposition to the bill until the September 30th deadline has passed.