Congress suspends hearing on Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill due to protests
WASHINGTON (AP) - Protesters in wheelchairs interrupted Tuesday's hearing on the GOP's health care bill — loudly screaming, "No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!"
The noisy protests forced Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch to recess the hearing just moments after it began.
Hatch told the protesters, "If you want a hearing you better shut up!" His complaint was to no avail as the protests continued.
So Hatch then shut the hearing down, saying it would resume when order was restored.
The protesters were removed from the hearing room one by one.
The hearing comes as Senate Republicans pursue a last-ditch effort to pass legislation to repeal and replace "Obamacare." They appear to be short of votes ahead of a make-or-break deadline at the end of this week.
President Donald Trump says Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain delivered "a tremendous slap in the face of the Republican Party" by voting to kill the party's July effort to repeal the Obama health care law.
McCain returned to the Senate after being diagnosed with brain cancer and voted against the bill in a dramatic post-midnight roll call. He was the third Republican to vote "no," just enough to kill it.
Trump says, "That's the only reason we don't have it, because of John McCain."
Trump called the "Rick and Bubba Show," an Alabama-based talk radio program. Trump has been campaigning to help Alabama GOP Sen. Luther Strange win a primary contest this week.
GOP leaders face an uphill fight this week to prevent a final defeat of their health effort.
A spokesman for Sen. Rand Paul says the Kentucky Republican remains opposed to the GOP bill repealing the Obama health care law. Paul's opposition would almost certainly doom the measure.
Just three Republican opponents would kill the bill in the narrowly divided Senate.
McCain opposes the measure and Maine Republican Susan Collins seems almost sure to do so. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski is undecided but voted against earlier versions this summer.
Spokesman Sergio Gor says Paul wants a "significant" reduction in the law's $1 trillion in spending, elimination of its coverage requirements and establishment of broad health plans consumers could join.
Gor calls meeting those demands "the only way" Paul votes yes.
Republicans have revised their bill in hopes of winning votes needed to avert defeat.