Protesters disrupt Graham-Cassidy health care hearing

Last Updated Sep 25, 2017 3:23 PM EDT

Protesters have caused a disturbance at a congressional hearing on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, with many shouting at lawmakers not to change their existing health care coverage. 

On Monday, protesters, disability rights groups and health care advocates lined the hallways of the Capitol building ahead of the Senate Finance Committee hearing, in the hopes of securing a seat inside the chamber.  Bill co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina and Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, are testifying on the panel.

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. Members of patient groups listen during a news conference on health care September 25, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Patient groups gathered on Capitol Hill to urged to reject the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

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Before the hearing began, Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, repeatedly called for order, asking for police assistance to keep protesters from causing further disruptions. 

"If you can't be in order then get the heck out of here," warned Hatch. 

Echoes of "Save our Medicare" and "Health care is a human right!" were audible from outside the halls as lawmakers continued to speak during the hearing and activists, including several who were wheelchair bound, were dragged out of the chamber. 

Hatch warned further, "if this hearing is going to devolve into a sideshow or a forum simply for putting partisan points on the board, there's absolutely no reason for us to be here," calling for a "civil discussion" and "spirited debate" on health care.

According to a CBS News poll, over half of Americans -- 52 percent -- disapprove of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, and only 20 percent of those polled said they approved of the Republican legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by Barack Obama.

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital