News / USA

Hundreds of Unemployed Storm Capitol Hill to Meet with Congress

Jeff Swicord

Thousands of Occupy Congress activists have decended on Washington this week to press their agenda of jobs and a fair economy for all.  The three days of protests and events was kicked off by a visit to Capitol Hill where hundreds of constituents demanding meetings with their members of Congress.  They are angry about the lack of progress on a jobs bill and a host of other economic issues.  

At 9 a.m., they assemble on Washington’s Mall.  More than 1,000 unemployed and underemployed Americans from across the country.  They have come to Washington to pressure Congress for more action on job creation and an extension of unemployment benefits.  Jeremy Collins is from Columbus Ohio.

"If any politician would walk by, you could see that there is a lot constituents out here," said Jeremy Collins," who is unemployed. "There are a lot of people here who are registered voters.  And if they want to get elected they need to listen to the people."

This week’s events are sponsored by a coalition of organizations and labor unions that say Congress has not done its part to create more jobs.  But some believe it will take more than jobs legislation and unemployment extensions to fix America’s economic problems.  Ryan Isabel is from West Palm Beach, Florida.

“I think the message needs to escalate to more major reform," said Ryan Isabel. "More sincere drastic changes to the operation of our economy and our society and our systems of government.”

VOA followed more than 20 constituents from South Florida as they tried to meet with Representative Allen West, a conservative member of the Tea Party.  They and hundreds of others plan to drop in on congressional offices unannounced, and demand a meeting with their representatives.   For most, this is their first time in Washington and the first time they have tried to meet with their member of Congress.

When they arrive, they are told the congressman is out, but will be back to two hours.  They are told to wait out in the hall.  As the staff member leaves, the group decides to wait inside the office anyway.  Holly Albert is among them.

“So we are going to wait here for two hours until Allen West speaks, gives in and speaks to us," said Albert. "And so we are going to talk about an array of problems in which we hope that he can pull his heart strings and concede to our needs.”

But the congressman’s staff is clearly annoyed.  Eventually the chief of staff shows up along with two Capitol Hill police officers.

“Do you have an organized group here?  Do you have a supervisor?," asked a policeman.

The staff member and officer ask to meet with two members of the group in private.  They soon return to report to the group.

“Three of us can stay here in this room," said a constituent. "And the rest of us have to move to the hallway.”

The congressman will only meet with three of them for 10 or 15  minutes.  The rest must leave or risk arrest.  Some are shocked to learn the congressman can refuse to meet with constituents.

“The congressman is not refusing," said a staff member. "The congressman is meeting with individuals that have said they are the leaders of your group.”

Representative West eventually met with four constituents.  We were told they did not agree on anything.  For many it was a tough lesson on just how difficult compromise in Washington has become.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More