by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Tens of thousands of citizens, chanting “kill the bill” and “can you hear us now,” converged on Washington yesterday just as the U.S. House is planning to vote on a health care plan that includes abortion funding and death panels.
According to a report by The Hill, the event was organized by Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) who called upon citizens who want their voices heard to come to the Capitol and “make a house call” to lawmakers who are poised to vote on the bill tomorrow.
Rep. Bachman said the event was the result of a brainstorming session with fellow Republicans whose minority status has caused them to be shut out of all health care discussions.
Knowing they didn’t have the votes to prevent passage of the bill, the Minnesota Congresswoman decided to add to their numbers by rallying the citizenry. She used an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity show last week and her internet presence to rustle up what some estimate to be almost 45,000 people.
“We knew that we were limited, but what we knew was unlimited was the voice of persuasion of the American people,” she told the crowd from the steps of the Capitol. “And that’s why you’re here today.”
After the rally, protesters swarmed the halls of Hill office buildings, confronting lawmakers, many of whom are nervous about signing onto the House bill’s enormous $1.20 trillion price tag in wake of this week’s crushing defeats to fiscal conservatives in Virginia and New Jersey.
At the end of the day, the largely peaceful gathering caused only a few security problems with a mere 10 people being arrested by Capitol police, four for unlawful entry and six for unlawful conduct.
Meanwhile, the president and Democratic leadership pretended to take little notice of the rally with the president visiting the press briefing room to announce the conditional support of the American Medical Association.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the protest, noting “anybody that watches is struck by the fact that there’s a rally going on without a solution on their side.”
One protestor, Scott Brown, told The Hill that the protests signified the awakening of a “sleeping giant” and that he hoped President Barack Obama would pay attention to the discontent.
“He could be so into himself that he doesn’t take any notice of it,” Brown said, “but he should.”
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