Twelve protesters, upset that House Republicans want to tax student tuition waivers, were arrested Tuesday after refusing to leave the hallway outside of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office.
Graduate students from Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Missouri, California and Washington, D.C., came to voice their dismay with the Republican-authored tax overhaul plan.
The group knocked on Ryan’s office door in the House’s Longworth building, and got no answer. They sat down in the hall and began chanting. After about 10 minutes, police arrested the protesters.
After the arrests, the protesters were processed and released, according to the U.S. Capitol Police. They were arrested for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.”
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Ryan’s office could not be reached for comment.
The House bill tax overhaul plan removes some benefits college students can receive, changes that have triggered protests on campuses around the country.
Graduate students in Washington contended Tuesday the change would hurt their ability to attend school.
“I’m going to have to over fork thousands of dollars more than what I already do,” said Scott Ross, a Ph.D. student at George Washington University. “This is an attack on higher ed, making it harder to actually do graduate education.”
“This could affect me in a number of ways, but the most immediate effect is the tuition waiver that is taxed as income,” Thomas DePaola, a Ph.D. student from the University of Southern California.
Many institutions waive tuition as a benefit for students who are employed as teaching or research assistants while pursuing advanced degrees.
The House tax bill would make the tuition waiver taxable. The Senate’s version would keep the tuition waivers tax-free.
House and Senate negotiators will begin shortly ironing out compromise tax legislation.
“He (Paul Ryan) needs to turn around and if he really wants to represent people of the United States and Wisconsin, he needs to push to defend higher education, students, the poor and working-class,” Ross said. “We are the people who are bearing the brunt of the tax bill.”
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