Heard on the Hill

Disabled Protest Closes Rotunda

40-person protest kept lawmakers from entering

U.S. Capitol Police prepare flex cuffs to arrest members of ADAPT protesting in the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday against the American Health Care Act of 2017 and cuts to Medicaid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol Rotunda was closed for about an hour on Wednesday because of a protest of about 40 people, the majority of whom were in wheelchairs.

Members of the group ADAPT, which organizes disability rights activists, were protesting against the American Health Care Act currently being debated in Congress and proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Fifty-four arrests were made in the Rotunda, 41 of which were females and 13 were males. They were charged under D.C. Code § 22-1307, Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding, according to Capitol Police. 

“I want the Medicaid,” the protesters yelled and held signs that carried statements like “Medicaid= life 4 disabled.” The protest started around 2 p.m.

About halfway through the demonstration, Capitol Police started collecting headphones from the tour they were taking to get into the building.

North Carolina Reps. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, and Mark Meadows, a Republican, were both denied entrance by police as they tried to walk through the Rotunda from the House side of the Capitol.

All tour groups were also denied entrance and tourists struggled to take photographs of the ceiling from outside the room.

Just before 3 p.m., the police removed each protester by either wheeling them out of the room or helping them up off the floor.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.