Chants broke out after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell concluded his opening comments
Capitol Hill police removed about a dozen protesters from the gallery
Thirty-one protesters chanting in the Senate gallery Tuesday afternoon were charged with disruption of Congress after interrupting Senate Republicans’ successful motion to proceed to debate on their health care efforts, according to a Capitol Police statement.
Chants of “kill of the bill” first rung out above the main floor just moments after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell concluded his opening comments.
The chants developed into “don’t kill us, kill the bill,” followed by repeated shouts of “shame, shame, shame.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who was presiding over the session at the time, pounded his gavel and asked the sergeant at arms to restore order three times. Portman waited three minutes before requesting roll call, and the chants slowly died down as Capitol Hill police removed protesters from the gallery.
After the senators proceeded to vote on the motion, which passed 51 to 50 with Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote, most senators left the room.
Yet chants continued in the gallery, and more people were removed.
Over a dozen police officers remained lined up in the Senate hallways afterward, in preparation for further protests.
Meanwhile, hundreds more protesters from ADAPT, a national disability-rights organization, gathered in the main atrium and upper floors of the Senate’s Hart office building chanting that they’d “rather go to jail than die without Medicaid.” Sixty-four protesters there were arrested and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” according to the Capitol Police statement.
The same group has hosted various protests and sit-ins across the country in recent weeks.