U.S. Capitol Police arrested 181 people during demonstrations outside a hearing room where U.S. senators were discussing a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
The Graham-Cassidy Bill, considered by some Republicans as their last chance to make changes to health care law, appeared all but dead late Monday. But earlier in the day, protesters had to be cleared from the hearing room, chanting, "No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!"
Fifteen people were arrested and charged with disruption of Congress. The hearing resumed after an 18-minute delay.
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Outside the hearing room, more protesters continued to chant and yell. Capitol Police arrested 166 people after they refused to clear the hallways.
Police said some demonstrators, as part of their protest activities, removed themselves from wheelchairs and mobility devices and got down on the floor. Police were later able to reunite the people with their devices.
The last-gasp Republican drive to tear down President Barack Obama's health care law essentially died Monday as Maine Sen. Susan Collins joined a small but decisive cluster of GOP senators in opposing the push.
The Maine moderate said in a statement that the legislation would make "devastating" cuts in the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people, drive up premiums for millions and weaken protections Obama's law gives people with pre-existing medical conditions. She said the legislation is "deeply flawed," despite eleventh-hour changes its sponsors have made in search of support.
The only way Republicans could resuscitate their push would be to change opposing senators' minds, which they've tried unsuccessfully to do for months. Collins told reporters that she made her decision despite a phone call from President Donald Trump, who's been futilely trying to press unhappy GOP senators to back the measure.