GOP Rep Finds Himself in Hot Seat Even After Abruptly Cutting Off Interview
'You voted for this bill in a rush. There were no committee hearings. This is my life,' one constituent said to Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) on Monday night
First, he stormed out of a pre-orchestrated television interview with local station KCRG-TV9, after a reporter Josh Scheinblum pressed him on why his staff was requiring IDs from those hoping to attend a town hall forum in Dubuque Monday night.
"Some would make the case that you represent all Iowans...shouldn't all Iowans have a voice at the table or at least have the option to?" Scheinblum asked after Blum explained he wanted to ensure that all town hall attendees lived in the district he represents.
"I don't represent all Iowans" Blum answered. "I represent the First District of Iowa. That would be like saying, 'Shouldn’t I be able to, even though I live in Dubuque, be able to go vote in Iowa City during the election because I'd like to vote in that district instead?'"
Scheinblum followed up: "Would you still take donations from a Republican in Iowa City?"
At which point Blum stood up, removed his microphone, and said "I'm done. This is ridiculous. He's just going to sit there and badger me." As he was walking out the door, the children whose presence Blum had requested at the interview looked confused.
Blum's problems didn't end there.
Following the truncated interview, the congressman faced roughly 1,000 voters at a town hall at Dubuque Senior High School, "where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him," according to the Washington Post.
The local Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier wrote that "[t]he two-term incumbent faced regular interruptions from shouted questions, stomping feet, and boos when delivering answers in support" of Trumpcare, which he voted against in its first incarnation, but came around to support last week after provisions were inserted to make it easier for insurance companies to increase prices for pre-existing conditions and more.
The Huffington Post reported:
One woman stood up and decried the process in which Republicans passed the bill―including their decision to not wait for the Congressional Budget Office to analyze its cost and coverage projections. She also claimed Blum's staff told her the congressman had not read the bill.
"You voted for this bill in a rush. There were no committee hearings. This is my life," she said. "The Congressional Budget Office didn't score this bill... what was the rush?"
"I have always said the process was bad," Blum responded. "It was rushed. There should have been hearings."
"The bill is better than what we have [under the Affordable Care Act]. It's heading in the right direction," he added, to boos from the audience.
Politico reporter Dan Diamond captured several moments on Twitter:
Q: What if $ for preexisting conditions run out?
Blum: Congress will replenish it but I can’t promise it. “I probably won’t be there then.” https://t.co/97FObdgVpP
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) May 9, 2017
Of course, in holding a hometown forum in the first place, Blum is doing better than the vast majority of the 217 House Republicans who voted in favor of Trumpcare. According to a Politico review of TownHallProject.com, only 14 of those 217 members—less than 7 percent—are listed as holding town halls with their constituents this week.
After seeing how Blum fared on Monday, that number isn't likely to increase.