Forced to Defend Healthcare Plan, Lawmakers Face 'Supercharged Resistance'

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Forced to Defend Healthcare Plan, Lawmakers Face 'Supercharged Resistance'

Congressmen in California, New York, Texas, and beyond forced to defend GOP healthcare plan to energized crowds at town hall meetings

The crowd outside Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) town hall on Saturday, March 11. (Photo: @redheadedocb/Twitter)

Republican congressmen Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter, both of California, faced large, angry crowds at town hall meetings on Saturday, offering a preview of what awaits GOP lawmakers if they continue their efforts to ram through a widely unpopular healthcare reform law while ducking attempts to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his conflicts of interest and possible ties to Russia. 

According to the San Diego Union Tribune: "About 1,000 people poured into an Oceanside community center for two back-to-back forums with Issa. About that many showed up in Ramona for Hunter's single session, but only about 400 could fit in the concert hall where it was held."

The paper reported:

It was the first time the two Republican congressmen held forums with their constituents since President Donald Trump's inauguration. The messages from the audience and those outside mainly came in the form jeers, hollers and protest signs with a clear theme: they want the congressmen to oppose Trump's agenda. Hunter appeared to have more supporters at his event than Issa did at his, but they were both heavily outnumbered.

"We are very upset about basically everything that has happened since Trump has taken over," said Brownen Anders, a pediatrician who attended the Hunter [event] at the Ramona Mainstage.

Anders said she is particularly concerned about the American Health Care Act, the GOP's alternative to the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act healthcare policy. The new bill, she said, doesn't do anything for children.

The Huffington Post added:

At both meetings, voters voiced concerns about the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. When Issa refused to say "Affordable Care Act" because it's "not affordable" he was met with a crescendo of jeers and chants of, "Do your job."

Issa drew rare applause when he said that, unlike many of his fellow Republicans, he had called for an investigation into Russia's interference into the presidential campaign, CBS 8-TV reported. He also vowed to oppose the defunding of the EPA.

Hunter, whose larger town hall in Ramona attracted some 1,000 protesters, was at times confrontational. [...] He said he would not support any investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, adding that the current U.S. intelligence community is packed with "seditious Obama folks" who "hate Donald Trump as much as you do" and are trying to sabotage the administration.

People documented the resistance on social media:

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Issa and Hunter were not the only ones who encountered engaged constituents on Saturday. Hundreds turned out for a town hall meeting with with Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) in Ithaca, New York; in Texas, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) faced questions on healthcare, education, and immigration. 

As they did during last month's Congressional recess, progressives plan to hold lawmakers' feet to the fire during the upcoming April break—and to increase the pressure on elected officials between now and then. 

"The reality of the healthcare repeal bill will supercharge the resistance," Ben Wikler, MoveOn.org's Washington director, told The Hill. "This is really going to be a full court press."

"We're starting to gear up to keep the members of Congress' phones ringing off the hook continuously until they commit or follow through on their commitment to vote against this bill," he added. 

MoveOn is holding an emergency call on Sunday night to "lay out the 18-day strategy to save healthcare for millions, including what each of us can do where we live."

Meanwhile, Indivisible project board member Sarah Dohl told The Hill: "We’ll keep the heat on as we see further committee action, but we're really focusing on the upcoming two week recess that starts April 8." She pointed to Sen. Tom Cotton's (R-Ark.) vocal opposition to the GOP's American Healthcare Act (AHCA) as evidence that town hall resistance is working. 

The Hill reported:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is holding two town halls on March 17, according to the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Republican has yet to publicly comment on the legislation, and an Ernst representative told The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa that she is "currently reviewing the bill."

MoveOn is planning to have a presence at Ernst's Cedar Rapids town hall. 

And across the country, a pro-ObamaCare rally is scheduled outside of a private event that Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is attending in his home state, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Heller will attend a small event at a local senior living community, inspiring Sun City Anthem Democrats Club to plan a rally outside the event. The club is encouraging members to either get there early for a seat at the event or participate in the rally, according to the Sun.

As People's Action co-director LeeAnn Hall warned lawmakers in an op-ed last week: "The groundswell is not going away."

Or as former Barack Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau wrote Saturday on Twitter:

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