BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Former D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and the national group Courage for America gathered in Bakersfield on Thursday to call on Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to protect benefits in government spending and debt limit negotiations, marking the group’s first stop in a statewide bus tour.

The event at Yokuts Park near McCarthy’s Bakersfield office came just before the announcement that a grand jury in Manhattan voted to indict former President Donald Trump as a result of an investigation centered around his alleged role in a hush money payment involving adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

“At the end of the day, when the President or former President calls for death and destruction and rejects the idea of peaceful protest, the people that are going to get hurt, are cop, cops that are out here trying to keep the peace, sworn to protect,” Fanone said when asked Thursday if he was concerned about the former President’s calls for protests if Trump was indicted before the news of the grand jury’s vote was publicly known. “Those are the individuals that are going to be injured. I support law enforcement. And I don’t want to see my former colleagues injured.”

Fanone was referring to Trump’s post on his social media site Truth Social last week in which Trump said potential death and destruction from a charge, in this case, would be catastrophic for the country.

After suffering a heart attack and a brain injury responding to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Fanone has been outspoken about McCarthy’s response to the attack, but Thursday was the first time he took his message to Bakersfield.

“I would ask Kevin McCarthy to return to the Kevin McCarthy that spoke out in the days just after Jan. 6, truthfully, about what happened that day and about the extremist element that seems to [be] holding hostage his party,” he said.

Members of Courage for America, which includes Fanone, gathered Thursday to kick off a nationwide bus tour in which the group plans to travel from Bakersfield to D.C. stopping in different Congressional districts along the way. The purpose, the group said, is to call on McCarthy and House Republicans not to cut benefits such as social security, Medicare, Medicaid and SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps.

“I walked into a doctor’s office with a nagging cough and walked out with a stage four cancer diagnosis. I’m alive today because of the insurance I had through the Affordable Care Act,” Laura Packard of Heath Care Voter said at Thursday’s event. “[House Republicans] need to stop with the politics and the gamesmanship.”

McCarthy has repeatedly said cuts to social security and Medicare are off the table as the House GOP looks to cut government spending in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit.

On the topic of Medicaid, McCarthy’s office told us on March 17 that he believes reforms are needed to Medicaid to ensure benefits are going to those truly in need, as well as to end improper payments in this program.

Some House Republicans have proposed placing stronger work requirements on SNAP.

Jesse Aguilar, a California Teachers Association board member who works for the Kern High School district said at the event Thursday he believes changes to SNAP would have a big impact on families in Kern County.

“You see kids that come to school that haven’t been fed, and sometimes their only meal that they’re getting that day is at school, they’re not getting those meals at home,” he said. “I’m a constituent. I live in the speaker’s congressional district. I’ve lived here for most of my life. I work here. Most of my family lives here. And we would like our congressman to work for us.”

17 News reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment on Thursday’s event but did not immediately hear back.