GOP Lawmakers Battered With Boos and Jeers in Face-Offs With Constituents
Town hall events an avenue for voters to decry attack on healthcare coverage
While some lawmakers are avoiding town halls altogether, or holding "sham" events, the Republicans who are facing their constituents during April's congressional recess are taking a beating on a range of issues, notably their support for the failed GOP healthcare bill.
Take Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who held an event in his hometown at the Mesa Convention Center Thursday (and posted ground rules for the forum). "While several topics were discussed at the town hall, no issue was more prominent than that of healthcare," the Mesa Independent writes.
The Arizona Republic describes it as "a brutal face-to-face confrontation" where the crowd began shouting "healthcare for all" before Flake even hit the podium.
Flake, for his part, declared his support for "our free-market system of healthcare." The Associated Press adds: "On several occasions, Flake's answers were drowned out by boos." In contrast, a woman who said, "In Germany we have had a universal healthcare system... since 1871" elicited cheers.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) faces rowdy town hall; woman tells him Germany has had universal health care since 1871 pic.twitter.com/YQ1ffGAJ5T
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 14, 2017
A day earlier in Mesa, it was GOP Rep. (and Freedom Caucus member) Andy Biggs who faced angry constituents. His comments expressing doubt on established climate science drew boos. Yet he compared himself to Albert Eisenstein, saying the Nobel laureate was also "shouted down." At the end of the event, chants of "coward" were directed at Biggs.
Nearly every other constituent brought up health care at a town hall here on the outskirts of Denver on Wednesday night, in one of the most competitive House districts in the country.
But not a single one did it to thank Rep. Mike Coffman for backing the House GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Instead, dozens of local residents—Democrats and Republicans—pummeled the Colorado Republican for supporting legislation they said would harm their community.
One sexagenarian and lifelong Republican told Coffman he "was shocked when you declared your intention to vote for the American Health Care Act," referring to the GOP healthare bill. "That is not the way we do things here in Colorado."
In Oregon on Wednesday, Rep. Greg Walden held two events, one the The Dalles and one in Hood River, and "was repeatedly shouted down," the Oregonian writes.
"I witnessed you on television with Paul Ryan when he announced his so-called health care bill," one constituent, Roger Wagner, said during The Dalles event, according to the Oregonian. "That bill eliminates 24 million people off of healthcare. But that wasn't enough. You also wanted to cut funding for Meals on Wheels, well-baby care, all the while giving $1 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy and your corporate buddies?"
New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance also took a beating Wednesday night at a town hall in which "he was drowned out by standing ovations for speakers urging Lance to fight climate change and GOP healthcare plans," The Hill wrote.
Though Lance fielded question on numerous issues including the U.S. missile strikes in Syria and internet privacy, "his exchanges with constituents on healthcare got the most heated," The Hill continues. One of the participants who was able to ask a question was Janet Katz, who drew cheers when she said, "I want this repeal crap to stop." (Lance voted against the GOP's Obamacare repeal bill.)
The TownHallProject.com has a list of ongoing forums taking place.