US POLITICS

Trumpcare Protesters Take Their Message To GOP Rep’s House

Representative Peter King won't hold a town hall, so dozens of demonstrators took the fight to the conservative congressman's Long Island home

US POLITICS
Ryan Beckler
May 12, 2017 at 9:59 AM ET

About 40 protesters, most of whom bussed from Brooklyn, showed up outside of Rep. Peter King’s home in Long Island with a common message: “Disrupt our lives, and we’ll disrupt you.”

King was one of the 217 U.S. Representatives who voted last week for the third iteration of Trumpcare — the president’s attempt to repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act — after it included the allocation of $8 billion to those with high-risk conditions.

Constituents in King’s district organized a town hall last Sunday, but the Republican didn’t show up to address his constituents’ concerns. That’s what prompted Jaron Benjamin, an organizer with Housing Works, to assemble outside of the conservative congressman’s home.

“If he won’t come to us, we’ll come to him,” he told a bus full of demonstrators on the way to Seaford. King was one of seven New York representatives to vote for the plan. 

When the protesters arrived on his sidewalk to the chant of “healthcare is a human right,” a few locals from Democrat-leaning Nassau County joined the rotating picket line. Six police officers were stationed on the perimeter of King’s lawn.

The protest certainly caught the attention of King’s closest neighbors, many of whom were drawn out of their homes by the chants and signs. A handful of King-supporting passersby shouted the Donald Trump slogan of “Make America Great Again” but the 30-minute demonstration was largely non-confrontational.

The demonstrators, who came from advocacy groups such at Vocal NYC, Rise and Resist, and the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, signed a four-foot “card” on King’s curb. “Your support of #Trumpcare has jeopardized the health of 73,200 constituents. Shame on you,” it read. Rep. King wasn’t home, rumored to be on the way back from a Fox News appearance earlier in the day. While police officers didn’t allow the delivery of the card to King’s doorstep though, the posterboards were left with a detective in hopes of him passing it along.

“The stakes are high for me,” Tim Murphy, an activist for Rise and Resist, said. “The stakes are high for everyone here,” noting that there were a number of LGBT people at the demonstration, who are worried about their specific health care needs.

Thursday’s protest on Long Island is the latest of series of confrontations against Republican House members who voted for the controversial American Health Care Act (ACHA) last week. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters booed Speaker Paul Ryan’s visit to Harlem. The next night, Tom MacArthur was grilled in Southern New Jersey.  

“People aren’t just sitting in paralysis, which I think a lot of us did in November,” Benjamin, the lead organizer, said. “People are getting their anger out and we just gotta continue to work and get stronger.” 

The AHCA, which leaves the door open to list C-sections and sexual assault as pre-existing conditions, passed in the House of Representatives by just four votes. It’s now on to the U.S. Senate, whose members have indicated it make its own new version of the bill. The CBO will score the latest version of the AHCA later this month.

For Jennifer Ginsberg, a Seaford resident since 1986, King’s vote in support of the legislation wasn’t necessarily surprising.

“He’s a two-faced schmuck,” she said down the street from his home. “All he’s interested in is his political career. That’s it.”