The bookend to a tumultuous week on Capitol Hill is scheduled to unfold Saturday evening on Freedom Plaza, where hundreds of people are expected to protest attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Several left-leaning groups organized the “Our Lives on the Line” protests in dozens of cities across the country, with the flagship protest in D.C. Actor Justin Long will host the rally, which will be followed by a march to the White House.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is scheduled to speak, along with others who say they would have been harmed by Republican-proposed health-care legislation.
“The message of this protest is that constituents are furious about Trumpcare everywhere,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, a progressive group that helped to plan the rally. “There is nowhere to hide from a public that thinks this bill is a disgrace.”
Planned Parenthood, Moms Rising, Women’s March, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Indivisible are among the organizing groups.
The Saturday marches have been in the works for more than a month and were scheduled to coincide with the first day of Congress’s August recess. When it was scheduled, the fate of health-care legislation was up in the air, and it was unclear what precisely protesters would be protesting.
But early Friday, liberal groups that had been flooding Capitol Hill in recent weeks scored a victory as the Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would have advanced a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
Organizers say Saturday’s protest will show politicians that if they try to dismantle the nation’s health-care system, the public will continue to fight.
Planned Parenthood has been organizing protests in hopes of stopping changes to the Affordable Care Act. All iterations of the proposed health-care overhaul have included slashing federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
“The momentum has been building, and after [Friday morning’s] historic takedown of this bill, we know that it is extraordinarily important for us to stand in our power and demonstrate that when Congress tries to take care away from millions of people who rely on Planned Parenthood, we are not backing down,” said Graeme Joeck, federal campaign director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This has been a long road of eight months of hard organizing.”
According to protest permits from the National Park Service — the federal agency that oversees much of the District’s federal land — 1,000 people are expected to attend the Washington protest. It will conclude with a candlelight vigil in front of the White House to “uplift the voices of those directly impacted by health-care policy,” according to a description of the event in the NPS permits.
The “Our Lives on the Line” protests are scheduled for other cities, including Pittsburgh, Denver, Omaha, Chicago and Boise, Idaho. The Washington protest is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
“Every region of the country, not only are people against it, but people will be in the street and sending the message that voting to take away health care is a vote that will haunt Republicans for the rest of their political lives,” Wikler said.