As Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, readied to make his opening remarks at a hearing on health reform today, he was preempted by a succession of five protesters who stood up, one after another, led out successively by the Capitol Police as Chairman Max Baucus banged his gavel and implored them to leave be the committee and its guest panelists--mostly professors and think-tank people, with one representative from labor and one from business.
One protester shouted a rhyming diatribe; another quoted Florence Nightengale; another cited statistics--all in favor of a single-payer health care system, as they were escorted from the room. Baucus finally promised that he would find a way to meet with anyone who wanted to be heard. "I'll be there personally, he said." Fast-forward to 5:30 to see the protests; watch from the beginning to see more protesters, dressed in nurses' garb, walk out of the hearing as it begins.
One of the protesters who interrupted the hearing identified herself as a registered nurse.
Baucus has sought to lead health reform efforts in the Senate this year; today's hearing was the third in a series of panel discussions featuring health care experts, and it was the committee's fifth hearing on health care this year.