More than 20 protesters were arrested Monday afternoon after causing a disruption in the House gallery as lawmakers debated the debt-reduction deal negotiated by the White House and congressional leaders.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said 22 protesters were arrested and charged with disruption of Congress.
The protesters, who were sitting in one of the visitors’ galleries overlooking the Republican side of the chamber, unfurled a large black banner and began chanting against the debt-limit compromise.
They chanted several slogans, including: “Boehner, get off it; it’s time to tax corporate profits.” It appeared that after one officer tried to yank the banner from the group, a protester either took a tumble or dove over the row of seats in front.
“We have an injury!” someone said.
The protesters could be heard chanting even after they were brought into the hallway outside the gallery. According to reports by CNN and the Hill, the protest included members of the groups Vocal New York and National People’s Action.
The protest was the latest sign that some liberal Democrats are unhappy with the debt compromise, on which Congress is expected to vote later Monday ahead of a deadline of midnight Tuesday.
After a lengthy meeting with House Democrats in an effort to round up support for the deal, Vice President Biden left the Capitol on Monday afternoon. His message to the group, he said, was that the deal allows Democrats to continue to make the case for their spending priorities in the coming months — and avoids default now.
“If we don’t do this, we’re going to let the economy of the United States default. We’re going to see interest rates climb . . . we’re likely to have a double-dip recession. That’s now behind us — if this passes,” Biden told reporters.
But several Democrats emerging from the meeting said the group was disappointed and perplexed by the concessions their leaders had made.
“They’re frustrated,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). “They feel like they don’t have options.”
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