Thursday July 28, 2011 | 10:47 AM

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, seated, waits to be arrested by Capitol Police in the Rotunda of Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, defended members of the group of civic and religious leaders who were arrested after protesting proposed budget cuts associated with debt ceiling negotiations

The Associated Press

(Updated as of 1:40 p.m.: Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st, met in a room off the House floor with the group of religious and civil rights leaders, who were led by Bob Edgar, the president of the advocacy group Common Cause and a Methodist minister and former Democratic member of Congress from Pennsylvania. Pingree was president of Common Cause from 2003 to 2007, before winning her House seat in 2008.

"Thank you for using your voices at such a difficult time," Pingree said. Pingree then walked the group over to the Capitol Rotunda, where the religious leaders sang and then kneeled and prayed as they waged their protest, leading to their arrest by Capitol police when they would not leave. Pingree was not involved in the protest, and actually left the Rotunda before the arrest occurred because she was due to speak on the House floor - against the Boehner bill.)

(Updated as of 4:45 p.m.: Pingree talked about the protest on the House floor, saying the group was "praying for the millions of Americans who don’t have high priced lobbyists to protect them. They were praying for the families who find it harder and harder to afford basics like groceries and heat and gas for their cars--not the millionaires and big oil companies whose tax breaks are protected in this bill.”)

(Original item) Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st, is planning on accompanying a group of religious leaders to the Capitol later this morning for a protest against the proposal by GOP House Speaker John Boehner to cut some $917 billion in federal spending in exchange for a debt ceiling hike.

Pingree and other Democrats say the bill makes too deep cuts to programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and say additional tax revenues should be part of the mix in raising the debt ceiling, including allowing the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.

Protests are not allowed inside the Capitol, so the religious leaders may be getting themselves arrested as part of their demonstration. Pingree, presumably, will not be arrested



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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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