Thousands of people in various parts of the US have staged rallies to protest a Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
More than 10,000 people braved freezing temperatures in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday, carrying signs that read, “Save our Health Care.”
The event was headlined by Senator Bernie Sanders, a firm opponent of the repeal, who pushed his plans for an ambitious reform of the healthcare system and called on all Americans to defend the ACA.
“Our job today is to defend the ACA,” he told the crowd. “Our job tomorrow is to bring about a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.”
After Sanders, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and leaders of local unions took the stage and defended the act.
Senator Tim Kaine, who was Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the recent election, headlined a separate event in Richmond, Virginia that reportedly drew over 1,000 people.
“We wouldn’t sit down! We wouldn’t shut up! Because this isn’t business as usual!” Kaine told the crowd. “Why don’t we just jump off a cliff, then we’ll figure out how to land while we’re in mid-air? That’s what they’re saying.”
A similar rally was held in Portland, Maine, where over 600 people gathered together, according to police. Hundreds of protesters also attended a rally in Newark, New Jersey. Around 200 people held another rally in Denver, Colorado.
In Bowie, Maryland, local Democratic leaders gave out call lists of Republicans and asked people to ask their relatives in GOP-dominated states to join the movement.
Both the US Senate and the House of Representatives have approved a budget resolution that paves the way for an easy repeal of the law.
Republicans, including President-elect Donald Trump, view Obamacare as an excessive government intrusion into the healthcare market and argue that it is detrimental to economic growth since it burdens businesses. They say they have a plan to replace it but have offered few details.
The absence of a viable replacement for the program has drawn criticism from Democrats, with Obama and his outgoing administration directly warning Republicans against the repeal.