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Tea Party Protesters Descend on Capitol

Updated: 2:48 p.m.House GOP Members welcomed the return of the Tea Party movement to Washington, D.C., on Thursday and pledged to those gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol to help bring down the House Democratic health care reform bill and derail the Obama administration’s agenda.The densely packed crowd of sign-waving, flag-carrying protesters stretched down the West Lawn. Participants cheered and chanted “Kill the bill— as GOP leaders got up to speak against the Democratic health care plan, which is headed for a vote Saturday.“This is the greatest threat to freedom I’ve seen in the 19 years that I’ve been here,— Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.Members leaned heavily on patriotism to rally their base to flood Congress in protest of the health care bill, which they have dubbed a government takeover of health care. Many referenced the Constitution and former Republican President Ronald Reagan in making their case that the health care proposal is the wrong path forward.“You literally stand with us on hallowed ground. This is hallowed ground of freedom,— Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told the crowd, which she referred to as “freedom-loving Americans.— Bachmann also brought celebrities onto the stage: actor Jon Voight, who accused Democrats of “taking America apart, piece by piece,— and actor John Ratzenberger, better known as the character Cliff Clavin from the TV show “Cheers.— Ratzenberg drew cheers when declaring that the philosophy behind the Democratic health care plan “doesn’t come from America. It comes from overseas. It comes from socialism.—Asked his feelings on the event, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he supported the group’s peaceful assembly but questioned why GOP Members at the rally “keep talking about our bill but won’t talk about theirs.—Bachmann “ought to be sharing with her party people there exactly what is in their bill,— Clyburn said on MSNBC. Stating that the GOP plan discriminates against people with pre-existing conditions, Clyburn said the GOP proposal “is a shameful piece of legislation.—Others at the rally included Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), who told attendees that America’s “greatness comes from adherence to fundamental American principles, principles that respect life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.—Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged the crowd to “pick up common-sense Democrats— to vote with the GOP against the health care bill and said Republicans are solidly united in their opposition to the House plan.“As the Republican Whip, I want to tell you that I have reached out to every Republican Member of Congress in this House and let me tell you, your efforts are being heard loud and clear,— Cantor said. “I will guarantee you that we are making sure that not one Republican will vote for this bill.—

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