Republicans Face Constituents at Town Halls Around the Country

February 21st 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Republican lawmakers are hearing directly from their constituents at town hall events across the U.S. — with many voicing concerns about the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

town hall

This week — with Congress on recess — long lines and packed venues awaited Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), and others.

Images and videos of confrontations between the lawmakers and constituents are making rounds on social media.

Like this one, where a Kentucky voter gives McConnell an ear full over his repeated pledges to return coal jobs to the state.

Or this one, where a former military translator from Afghanistan described his struggles seeking asylum in the U.S. at a Grassley town hall event on Tuesday.

The dominant issue on the minds of voters this week appears to be health care. Progressive organizations such as Organizing for America and MoveOn helped facilitate the town hall gatherings, offering advice to constituents about how to conduct themselves at the events, CNN reported.

Voters chanted "what's the plan?" at Ross' town hall event, in reference to Republicans' proposed ACA replacement.

Faced with the prospect of the law's repeal, public opinions about the ACA have shifted demonstrably in 2017. A record 45 percent of Americans said the ACA was a "good idea," a January Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey found. Fifty percent of Americans had a "favorable" opinion of the health care law in January 2017, according to a survey conducted by Fox News showed. Just 38 percent felt favorably about the ACA when Fox surveyed voters in March 2015.

On Twitter President Donald Trump attempted to downplay the gatherings, writing that the "so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists."

But not all Republicans are promoting the idea that these protest efforts are staged. Grassley, whose own town hall event was occupied by constituents, pushed back against Trump's claim.

"It's all legitimate," Grassley said of the protests, according to The Washington Post's Dave Weigel. "If Hillary Clinton had won, you'd see the same thing from other people."