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The Senate Finance Committee‘s hearing on the controversial last-ditch bill to repeal and replace major parts of Obamacare was disrupted at its start by loud protests from audience members.
Committee leaders suspended the hearing until Capitol Police could clear the room of a group chanting “No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!”
Officers dragged out multiple people, some of whom were in wheelchairs, after they refused to leave voluntarily.
“If you want a hearing, you better shut up,” snapped Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of of the Finance Committee.
Hatch resumed the hearing at 2:18 p.m.
But the chants continued, loudly, and were clearly heard in the committee room.
The legislation, known as Graham-Cassidy, faces long odds for passage by Saturday’s deadline.
A revised version of the bill was introduced Monday in an effort to woo those four senators by increasing the amount of money allocated to their respective states.
Before the hearing, people in line outside the hearing heckled Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, a lead sponsor of the repeal bill, yelling “shame, shame, shame.”
When the hearing resumed, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the committee’s ranking member, noted that Graham’s bill is widely unpopular with the general public.
“This proposal is about as popular as prolonged root canal work,” Wyden said.
He also accused Republicans of trying to pass the bill in an effort to get some kind of health-care legislation passed, regardless of the damage it would do to Medicaid and to customers of individual health plan customers.
“Nobody has got to buy a lemon just because it’s the last car on the lot,” Wyden said.