Dozens of advocates stormed into a closed-door D.C. Council breakfast meeting this morning to protest spending cuts in the fiscal year 2011 budget that members plan to vote on later today.
Organized by a group called Save Our Safety Net, the advocates pushed into the meeting shortly before 10 a.m. as members were eating a breakfast of waffles and grits.
"D.C. deserves better than this," one woman began shouting. "We want to know who is going to stand up today for a strong safety net."
The advocates are lobbying in support of a proposal by council member Michael Brown (I-At large) to increase taxes on the wealthy to spare some cuts to social service programs. Brown's proposal would impose income tax rates of 8.9 or 9.4 percent for top wage earners. But Brown said today he will not push for his proposal at today's meeting because he is comfortable that the council is already restoring funding for key social service programs.
"We are going to have to revisit this later this year, definitely next year," Brown told the Washington Post's Mike DeBonis. "I got [the cuts] restored in another way."
The crowd, which forced many members to flee their breakfast meeting while they awaited for the security guards to restore order, spent about 10 minutes shouting various chants.
"Show some guts, stop the cuts," they yelled. "Chairman Gray, Chairman Gray, how many cuts have you made today?"
"Can you guys leave so we can have our" meeting, Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) said one point.
When the security officers cleared the meeting room, the advocates spread a makeshift net in the hallway as they continued chanting.
"One-two-three-four, stop before you cut some more," they said. "Five-six-seven-eight, D.C. families cannot wait."