Mar 21, 2010

Protesters shout at Pelosi, Frank about health care

02:21 PM

Protesters at the U.S. Capitol rallying against the health care bill.
CAPTIONBy NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP/Getty ImagesUSA TODAY's John Fritze reports that a colorful scene -- complete with protesters and some historic artifacts -- is unfolding on Capitol Hill.

The House has begun debate on challenges to the "rule," which sets out the order for what is going to occur on the floor today.

John reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California emerged from a closed-door meeting confident that the health care legislation would pass.

Pelosi carried with her the gavel that Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., used to end voting on the day in 1965 when the House passed the Medicare law. "I will use it this evening when we cast a very successful vote for this important legislation," Pelosi said. "We're doing this one for the American people."

But as Pelosi finished her remarks, 66-year-old Ron Arner of Pennsylvania shouted, "You're doing it to the American people."

Arner got down on one knee and yelled at Democrats as they left a Cannon Building meeting room on their way to the House floor. "You are a disgrace to your office," he shouted.

Around the corner, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News Channel was interviewing Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., when Arner started shouting Frank down. "This is Fox News," Frank quipped, suggesting that Arner might want to wait to interrupt an interview with some other network. Frank ended the interview, saying he was disappointed with "that kind of interruption."

Protesters yesterday had hurled epithets at Frank, who is openly gay.

Meanwhile, back on the House floor, Rep. Louise Slaughter's spokesman says the New York Democrat is armed with her own piece of history. Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, is carrying with her a reproduction of a 1939 letter from President Franklin Roosevelt asking Congress to make national health insurance part of his Social Security plan.

John and USA TODAY's Richard Wolf will have more on the historic health care legislation in tomorrow's editions. ... lth-care/1