House Republicans have begun discussing behind closed doors measures for protecting themselves and their staff from protesters furious about the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersStudy: Rhode Island, Delaware have fastest internet in country At the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE Week ahead in tech: Internet privacy repeal awaits Trump signature MORE (Wash.) has tasked Rep. Dave ReichertDavid ReichertRepublicans try to tame their rowdy town halls The Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Finance: Biz groups endorse Trump's Labor pick | New CBO score coming before health bill vote | Lawmakers push back on public broadcasting cuts MORE (R-Wash.) with suggesting safety measures for lawmakers, Politico reported Tuesday.
“The message was: One, be careful for security purposes,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.). "Watch your back.”
“And two, be receptive,” added Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. "Because it is toxic out there right now. Even some of the guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have have never seen it to this level.”
Reichert suggested having local police monitor town halls, it said, and having a physical exit strategy for such events.
The Washington lawmaker also floated replacing glass doors with heavier barriers and setting up intercoms to filter out potential disruptors before they enter offices.
“It’s not that you run from protesters, but if someone suggests some sort of physical threat or are espousing a verbal threat that could lead to a physical threat, if you feel that you’re in danger and your staff is in danger, call 911 and leave and go out the back door,” Reichert said after the meeting.
“The world is sometimes not a friendly place,” he said, referencing the mass shooting at a 2011 constituent event former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) held in Tucson.
“There is a mission out there right amongst some people to disrupt the offices of certain members … to make us look inaccessible, unresponsive and like we’re not doing anything. … There is a list of things you can do to make sure your people are safe.”
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan's home state highlights challenge for GOP high-risk insurer pools Trump 'disappointed' in congressional GOP Bipartisan push grows for new war authorization MORE (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that Congress’s work to repeal and replace ObamaCare would finish “this year."
Ryan has put forward an even more ambitious timetable in the House, focusing on late March for moving ObamaCare legislation.
GOP lawmakers are facing rising heat from constituents, some of who oppose changing former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump blames Obama for vetting of Flynn Microsoft hires former FTC commissioner Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE’s signature healthcare law.