ABC News: Few Republicans hold town halls after health care vote
After House Republicans passed a major bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week, lawmakers are back in their districts, but only a handful of Republicans have scheduled public events to plug their recent legislative accomplishment.
By ABC News’ latest count, fewer than 20 House Republicans (out of 238 GOP members), plan to hold formal town hall events this week. Roughly the same number of Democrats are holding similar events.
Last night, New York Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney attended a public discussion on health care in a district that borders his own after the district's Republican lawmaker, Rep. John Faso, did not schedule an event. An estimated 400 people showed up.
“This guy should not be on some milk-carton. He should be here,” Maloney said about his Republican colleague. “Don’t take this the wrong way – I have my own district. I shouldn’t be here.”
Faso did attend a different event with senior citizens this week and posted a note about it on Instagram.
"I spoke to a gathering of constituents at the NY Statewide Senior Action Council's spring meeting," he wrote. "In addition to an audience Q&A, we discussed policy matters ranging from the federal budget process to protecting the future solvency of Medicare and Social Security. Thank you to all of the attendees for their thoughtful questions and civic engagement."
In districts across the county, advocates of the House health care bill have scheduled “empty suit” town halls with experts to answer questions about the Republican proposals in place of lawmakers.
The Republicans holding town halls this week have continued to see big and often hostile crowds. Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., was interrupted over the weekend when he tried to explain the mechanism in the Republican bill which would let states apply for waivers so insurance companies could charge people with pre-existing conditions more.
“I am a Type 1 diabetic. I am a cancer survivor,” one young woman in the crowd shouted at him. “I pay a thousand dollars a month just for my insulin if I lose my insurance. We stood up and took the pledge the United States of America. What should it matter what state we live in?”
Someone else in the crowd held a large sign that read, “Tom Reed makes me sick.”
Anticipating an angry crowd, Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, had his team check the IDs of people who came to his event last night. Only those who lived in his district were allowed into the event. He also abruptly ended an interview with a local reporter after tense questioning.
Blum told the packed gym that the Republican bill passed by the House “takes care of the same people” as the Affordable Care Act. The line was met with a chorus of boos. During the question and answer portion of his town hall, he admitted, as if attempting to reassure the crowd, that the bill he voted for was not yet law. He was questioned directly about people with pre-existing conditions and one exasperated woman walked up to him and yelled about the bill’s major cuts to Medicaid funding.
He told ABC News after the event that he did think the bill was rushed through, but insisted that it would be better for his constituents than Obamacare.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he was not worried about the political fallout from passing the bill.
“Health care is a complicated and very emotional personal issue, and we completely understand that,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
He went on, “We’re keeping our word. That’s really important here. People expect their elected leaders, if they run and campaign on doing something, they expect them to do that. And that's what we're doing. We're keeping our word.”