It's a long way from the left-leaning halls of Beacon Hill to Washington, but as the Republicans in Congress vote for a new House speaker, a group of local activists is calling for state and federal lawmakers to fight against budget cuts at the national level.
Around 20 demonstrators took to the State House steps and later testified at a hearing to ask the state Legislature to approve a resolution that would, in turn, urge Massachusetts's federal lawmakers to vote against cuts to social security, medicare, and other national programs.
"We have a concern about the direction of the federal budget ever since the Great Recession of [2007 to] 2009, and austerity really took hold in Washington," said Cole Harrison from the group Budget for All, which lead the protest.
Harrison and his group hope that by getting the issue in front of local lawmakers in Boston, the state's nine-member congressional delegation will get the message.
"If the Massachusetts Legislature would stand up and say 'we need some help from Washington,' it could actually help to move our delegation to vote where their people want them to vote," he said.
The Beacon Hill legislation, if approved, would call on Congress and the president to prevent cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veteran's benefits, housing, food and unemployment services. It also carries language in support of greater spending on job training, education, housing, renewable energy and transportation. But they aren't just bleating out a wish list of liberal spending priorities, they also want to pay for the projects through closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on those earning over $250,000.
Similar language passed on the ballots of every municipality where it appeared on the ballot in 2012, winning in 91 cities and towns from Cohasset to Mt. Washington.
Three of the state's nine members of Congress regularly support the House Progressive Caucus's version of the budget, Harrison said: Melrose Rep. Catherine Clark, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern and Somerville Rep. Mike Capuano. The demonstrators at the state capitol hope to sway five representatives, Quincy Rep. Bill Keating, Lowell Rep. Niki Tsongas, Springfield Rep. Richard Neal, Brookline Rep. Joseph Kennedy III and Salem Rep. Seth Moulton, to support the progressive budget plan. South Boston Rep. Stephen Lynch has supported the measure in the past, Harrison said, and the group hopes he will vote for the progressive measures once again.