Three days into a handful of truckers’ effort to circle the Capital Beltway to protest COVID-19 mandates, leaders of the so-called “People’s Convoy” met with Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to vow that truckers won’t back down until vaccine mandates in the country end.
“We’re going to keep looping the Beltway until we’re heard,” Brian Brase, a truck driver from northwest Ohio who is leading the trucker convoy, told reporters following the group’s meeting with Johnson and Cruz, according to the Washington Post. “We’re not going anywhere.”
The meeting took place as a convoy of trucks, SUVs and cars entered its third day of sitting in Beltway traffic, an interesting approach to protest that started last weekend. In its most successful moments, the group slowed down traffic near the Capital. The convoy has periodically lost steam as trucks became interspersed with normal traffic.
Cruz and Johnson reportedly praised the convoy members during the meeting.
“God bless all of you,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “I think your stories are so powerful.”
Brase signaled convoy members’ intention to prolong their presence in the D.C. area, and hope to meet with more lawmakers on the Hill.
“We could go indefinitely right now if that’s what it takes,” Brase said, according to the Post. Brase reportedly claimed that the group had more meetings later Tuesday, but did not go into detail.
Brase has maintained that there are no plans for the convoy to head into D.C. itself. Organizers told the New York Times that they didn’t want people to drive into the Capital on Sunday because there were concerns that some participants could create the type of chaos that broke out during last year’s deadly Capitol insurrection.
On Monday, the Pentagon extended the National Guard’s deployment in D.C., following the Capitol Police Board’s emergency request over the weekend.
Initially, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the activation of 700 National Guard members last month ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address a week ago. The initial deployment of Guardsmen also came amid concerns of potential trucker convoy protests coming to D.C. on the day of the President’s speech.
But plans for a massive convoy of truckers to reach D.C. in time for the SOTU didn’t come to fruition.