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Lack of Town Halls During Recess Leads to Health Care Sit-Ins in GOP Offices

After Senate Republicans unveiled their working draft of legislation to overhaul the nation’s health care system two weeks ago, only five Republican lawmakers held events during the July 4th recess to discuss the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), prompting some constituents to take a more-direct approach.

Several constituents shared videos under #SitInsSavesLives on Twitter and Facebook, documenting small protests throughout the country at several GOP offices, including those of Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Protesters filled the waiting rooms of lawmakers’ local offices throughout last week, often signing, holding signs and waiting to have the opportunity to speak with their representatives.

Twitter user Alisande DeMoreovence documented two days of protests at Rubio’s Tallahassee office.

“We’re not asking, we’re demanding in a nice way,” said one protester in a wheelchair to a staffer in Rubio’s office during the live protest.

“Our asks are that we get some sort of conversation with Rubio, commitment to either abstain from voting on this horrible bill next week or to vote no,” she said.

The sudden spark in local sit-ins came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) postponed an anticipated vote on BCRA until after the annual July 4th recess, facing backlash for keeping a tightly latched door while writing the bill

Twenty-two million Americans would lose their insurance under the bill, the Congressional Budget Office estimated two weeks ago.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told a group of Boy Scots in Wisconsin last Friday that he would also no longer be holding town halls, and the reason is more than just “security concerns.”

“What we have found is there are people who are trying to come in from out of the district to disrupt town hall meetings and not have a civil discussion,” Ryan said.

But as lawmakers make their way back to Capitol Hill, it seems the demonstrations won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Around 20 protesters also attempted to enter the offices of several Republican senators on Monday afternoon, including those of Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), according to Jeff Stein of Vox.

“Arrests expected. 15 similar actions later today,” Stein tweeted.