Dec 13, 2017
As GOP negotiators triumphantly announced on Wednesday that they have reached a tentative "deal" on their tax bill--placing it on track for a vote as early as next week--progressives held a "People's Rally" outside of the Capitol building to highlight the legislation's historic unpopularity and demand that a final vote be delayed until newly elected Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is seated.
"No Jones, no vote!" demonstrators chanted, echoing a chorus of progressive lawmakers who have called on Republican leaders to "listen to the people of Alabama."
"Our message to Mitch McConnell is simple: No vote on the tax bill until Doug Jones is rightfully seated," Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a speech on the lawn of the Capitol.
While demonstrators listened to speeches by "Not One Penny" organizers in the freezing D.C. weather, opponents of the GOP tax bill also held sit-ins inside the offices of individual senators.
At the office of Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), activists collectively warned, "If this tax bill passes, people will die."
\u201cInside @JerryMoran\u2019s office now. Activists from Kansas speak: \u201cWithout provisions like the individual mandate, I\u2019d be dead.\u201d\u201d— Brynna Quillin (@Brynna Quillin) 1513188629
Dozens of protesters also gathered at the offices of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)--a strong supporter of a provision in the Republican bill that would open up her state's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling--and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has said she would be open to reversing her support for the bill.
Shouts of "shame!" resounded through the halls of the Senate as police began escorting protesters from the building in handcuffs. Police also quickly converged on the activists with disabilities who were occupying Murkowski's office.
\u201cChants of \u201cshame!\u201d break out outside of @lisamurkowski\u2019s office\u201d— Brynna Quillin (@Brynna Quillin) 1513188629
The demonstrations raged on as lawmakers attended the first public conference committee hearing on the GOP tax bill, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) characterized as a "sham," given that the legislation has "already been written behind closed doors."
"There has not been one public hearing, no opportunity to hear from economists, governors, mayors, or ordinary Americans who will be impacted by this tax bill," Sanders said.
The full details of the agreement reached by congressional Republicans on Wednesday are not yet known--Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas.) assured Democrats that they will learn the details when the public does--but reports indicate that the reconciled bill will be even more favorable to wealthy individuals than any of the previous versions.
The final bill, according to the Wall Street Journal, would reduce the top marginal tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.
"This tax bill was written for Republicans' wealthy campaign contributors," Sanders concluded. "I want to congratulate my Republican colleagues for their honesty about that."
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