Senate Republicans are considering legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act
Lawmakers who experienced protests at home are also running into protests in DC
Republican senators returning from recess Monday were greeted by protesters in or around their Capitol Hill offices, demonstrating against GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Protesters demonstrated in 13 different locations in House and Senate office buildings, according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki. As of Monday afternoon, Capitol Police had arrested 80 protesters — 21 in House office buildings and 59 in Senate buildings — and charged them with the misdemeanor of “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding,” Malecki said.
Sens. Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, Rob Portman and Lamar Alexander, all Republicans, had protesters either inside or in the vicinity of their offices, holding signs and chanting their opposition, including “Save our lives, kill the bill” and “Come out and talk to us.”
Some of the protesters outside of Cruz’s office lay down on the ground, blocking foot traffic, forcing Capitol Police officers to carry them down the hall.
Cruz and Portman both expressed opposition to the Senate’s health care bill before leaving for the July 4 recess, though Cruz had recommended and GOP leadership was considering an amendment to the current legislation.
Cruz, Flake and Portman also faced protests in their home states during the previous week’s congressional recess. A protester was arrested after making threatening comments outside Flake’s Tucson office. At least 15 demonstrators were arrested after two days of protests at Portman’s office in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. Cruz faced a large group of protesters at a parade in McAllen, Texas. Speaking to CNN affiliate KVEO last week, Cruz said the demonstrators were an illustration of democracy at work.
“One of the great things about freedom in America is even people who disagree can speak out, and there is a small group of people on the left who, right now, are very angry,” the Texas senator said last week. “We can engage in cordial and civil debate – that’s how democracy works and that’s how it’s meant to work.”
CNN’s Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.