April 11, 2017

Republicans avoid town halls after health care votes

by Heidi M Przybyla, USA TODAY, April 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania appear to be the only swing-district Republicans who voted for their party’s bill to replace Obamacare who will directly face constituents over the April recess, according to a USA TODAY analysis of scheduled town halls compiled by Townhallproject.com.

Fourteen Republicans from competitive congressional districts sit on the three congressional committees that voted last month for their party’s controversial health care plan before GOP leaders pulled the bill from the House floor because it lacked support to pass. The lack of town hall meetings in key swing districts during a spring break that lasts until April 23 underscores the party’s precarious political position on health care and peaking civic activism by progressives.

Costello and Lance had both voted for the bill in committee but opposed the final bill, saying changes made by House leaders made it more likely the bill would raise costs and reduce coverage for their constituents.

The migration away from public forums has been going on for months, despite complaints from constituents and local media. There have been roughly 30 recent newspaper editorials slamming lawmakers for avoiding town halls and calling on members to face their voters, not only in bluer portions of the country like New York but also in critical battlegrounds like Pennsylvania’s 6th and 7th districts, represented by Reps. Pat Meehan and Costello.

Costello’s office screened participants for his Saturday town hall through the online reservation site Eventbrite and forbid videotaping, leading the local Democratic Party chair to call the event “staged.” …

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