Republican lawmakers faced another onslaught of tough questions on Wednesday as constituents in their home states are becoming increasingly restless at town hall events.
At a public forum in Springdale, Arkansas, residents peppered Sen. Tom Cotton with demands to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) intact, a recurring theme at similar events nationwide.
“There are three members of my family, including me, that would be dead, dead and homeless if it was not for ACA. I am an angry constituent. You work for us,” one audience member told Cotton, prompting loud applause from the crowd of about 2,000.
Another attendee asked audience members to stand up if they are “affected by the Affordable Care Act and affected by health care.” Much of the crowd rose to its feet.
Several constituents vented to Cotton about the nearly universal approval of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees among Senate Republicans. Cotton, like 45 of the other 51 Republican senators, has voted to approve all 14 of Trump’s nominees to date.
“Everything has looked like a rubber stamp,” an audience member told Cotton. “And while 60% of Arkansas voters did vote for Donald Trump, I don’t believe that is going to be 60% of the people who vote in the next election.”
“Where is the rubber stamp going to stop?”
Cotton was frequently interrupted by boos and jeers from crowd members when his answers left them unsatisfied. When fielding a question about why he isn’t demanding Trump release his tax returns, Cotton answered, “Th
e way we determine our commander-in-chief in our country is through elections, and we just had an election, and this was a hotly contested issue during the election. Donald Trump still won.”
Meanwhile, in Metairie, Louisiana, Sen. Bill Cassidy endured chants of “do your job” from the audience that at times drowned him out entirely. Some attendees turned their backs on Cassidy as he explained his plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and one attendee was ejected for shouting over the senator as he tried to answer a question about the healthcare plan.
“If all you want to do is vent, this will not be profitable,” Cassidy said at one point, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But if we can get through this we will start answering questions.”
The hostile environments at Wednesday’s events mirrored those at town halls across the country this month during the break in the Congress schedule. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz all got an earful from constituents recently, as did other Republican leaders.
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