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Noor Ul-Hasan was one of the many frustrated constituents who showed up for Rep. Jason Chaffetz's town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

Noor Ul-Hasan was one of the many frustrated constituents who showed up for Rep. Jason Chaffetz's (R-Utah) town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

Undeterred by Lawmakers in Hiding, the Resistance Prepares for Recess

New video and guide from the Indivisible Movement gives practical advice for February town halls

Lauren McCauley

Since the GOP-led Congress took power last month, leaders that have supported President Donald Trump's controversial cabinet choices or have worked to eliminate affordable healthcare have had to face crowds of angry voters.

Now, with February's congressional recess on the horizon, the resistance is gearing up to confront lawmakers on their home turf to let them know how the American public views Trump's agenda.

While many elected officials are planning to hold town halls next week, reportedly more than 200 Republican legislators are skipping out. According to data compiled by Legistorm and reported by Vice News on Thursday, "[f]or the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events—and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin."

In comparison, during the same period in 2015, "Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events."

Undeterred by lawmakers in hiding, the leaders of the Indivisible Movement teamed up with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and on Thursday released a video giving practical advice on how best to confront your representative—even in the case of a no-show.

"Starting this weekend, your members of Congress will head home for a week long congressional recess to face constituents at town hall meetings," Reich states in the video. "This is your chance to show Trump's agenda faces a powerful resistance."

Pointing to recent headlines about frustrated voters shouting down lawmakers, he notes that "the resistance has already begun and it has serious momentum...Now it is your turn."

Interested parties, Reich says, can go to Indivisibleguide.com to find information about a town hall event. "When you go, ask hard hitting questions, demand real answers. Call your member of Congress out for their votes in favor of cabinet nominees, or if they pushed to repeal affordable healthcare for 30 milion Americans." Or, he adds, "if they took a bold stand, thank them for their courage and let them know that you've got their back."

Further, he advises, "record everything, and spread your clips online and distribute to local media. Your representatives may try to ignore one voice, but they can't ignore the local nightly news."

For those whose congressional representative is one of the many seemingly in hiding, Reich recommends that people hold their own town hall and invite them. "If your representative doesn't attend, bring a cardboard cut out or empty chair and let you local media know that your member of congress didn't have the courage to show up and face constituents," he adds.

Similarly, the Indivisible team put together a "Missing Members of Congress Action Plan" and on Tuesday a coalition of pro-democracy groups organized "Let's Make a Date" rallies in honor of Valentine's Day to pressure absent lawmakers to schedule a town hall.

"As citizens, you have the power and you have the responsibility," Reich concludes. "Together we can resist and together we can win."

Voters that are planning on taking part in town hall resistance next week are sharing information and tips with the hashtag #reclaimrecess.


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