WASHINGTON—In a stunning development that has left every federal institution reeling, the U.S. government’s legislative branch was arrested this afternoon on 23.3 million separate charges of manslaughter, sources confirmed.

Citing numerous lethal actions over nearly two and a half centuries—including negligent health care policies, failure to fund reconstruction on dangerously dilapidated roads and bridges, and repeatedly putting American soldiers in harm’s way in every armed conflict dating back to the War of 1812—authorities handcuffed all 535 members of Congress today and escorted them from the Capitol building amidst a throng of onlookers.

If convicted, prosecutors said, Congress would be officially deemed the most prolific killers in the nation’s history.

“Following a prolonged investigation, we have strong reason to believe the United States Congress is responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans at various times and in various locations since the late 18th century,” Washington, D.C. police lieutenant Art Thompson said at an ad-hoc press conference on the Capitol steps. “While we do not believe these deaths were caused voluntarily by the nation’s legislative branch, we nevertheless intend to prosecute them to the furthest extent of the law.”

“We have set a bail of $2 trillion,” Thompson added.

According to sources, SWAT teams broke down the Capitol building doors at precisely 10:12 this morning after law enforcement agents received a warrant implicating the Congress in multiple American deaths, including those of Maria Davidson of Forth Worth, TX, who died in 1981 from complications during pregnancy after Congress failed to provide birth control under Medicaid; Jeff Wnuk of Salem, OR, who died in 1968 following injuries sustained during the congressionally authorized war in Vietnam; and millions of others.

Officers said the nation’s 100 senators and 435 representatives were cooperative but had publicly denied the charges.

“I would like to speak for my fellow lawmakers in saying that these charges are unfounded,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters as officers led him to an awaiting police cruiser. “Beyond that, on advice of its attorney, Congress has no further comment at this time."

Despite the protestations of both Congress and its legal defense team, prosecutors said the manslaughter case against the legislative body is strong, and may result in significant jail time and fines should the bicameral institution be found guilty.

“From providing substandard health care to American citizens; to poor regulation of potentially lethal products such as cigarettes, assault weapons, and various pharmaceuticals; to embroiling the nation in numerous foreign wars, the case against Congress is really about as airtight as it gets,” prosecutor Derrick Allman explained while presenting a phone-book-sized warrant. “While Congress may be fairly well-connected, I’d say it would take a miracle for a jury of the legislative branch’s peers not to find them guilty as charged."

Local police authorities have been closely monitoring the lawmaking institution’s activities for decades, a source close to the investigation revealed. Officers were first tipped off by the Senate’s failure to pass a law restricting lead paint prior to 1971, a criminal act of negligence that led to untold deaths.

“Once we began pulling the string, we saw that Congress had been wreaking havoc on the American people for centuries,” Lt. Thompson told reporters. “The sheer number of elderly patients who were denied cutting-edge cancer treatment and died as a result was enormous. Add to that recent immigrants who lack any sort of comprehensive health coverage, people who fall between the cracks of the current system, and those who depend on emergency rooms for their primary care, and the number of deaths caused by Congress through the nation’s health care system alone is truly staggering.”

Legal experts said the trial could last for months, as each piece of evidence is presented one by one, from the bill authorizing the Iraq War in 2003 to the medical reports of children exposed to heavy metals at contaminated Superfund sites.

However, while Congress collectively faces more than 800 million years in federal prison, the group’s legal team stressed that it plans to contest most, if not all, of the charges.

“Congress is a pillar of our national community and should not be held ultimately responsible for these deaths,” defense attorney Karen Krevat told reporters. “It is our intent to show that Congress acted prudently and in good conscience, and that these deaths were purely accidental."

“Mark my words, Congress will have justice,” Krevat added.

Although most of the alleged killers will face an identical set of charges, the warrant separately charges House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with five counts of rape.