By Mike Soraghan - 08/12/09 11:37 AM EDT
A Texas congressman, worried about disruptions at his town halls, wants to weed out people who want to attend but don't live in his district.
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) has announced on his website that he will require attendees to show photo identification to get into his town halls to prove that they're his constituents. He said that he's doing so in response to a "coordinated effort to disrupt our town hall meetings."
Green, who says town halls are one of his "favorite ways to communicate with constituents," held four town halls earlier this month. He is now out of the country, but he has four more scheduled from Aug. 18 to Aug. 21.
Green spokeswoman Brenda Arredondo said that sign-in sheets from previous town halls have shown that as many as eight in 10 were not from Green's Houston-area district. Attendees were asked to list their addresses, and many listed addresses in neighboring districts.
The town halls have also featured some of the same shouting and interruptions seen in many town halls during the bitter August debate about healthcare, Arredondo said.
"We've actually had multiple constituents ask us to restrict access," Arredondo said.
His decision drew derision from Republicans who noted that he voted against a Republican amendment that would have required Medicaid recipients to prove they are citizens by showing photo ID.
"It’s just a tad ironic that while Congressman Green forces his own constituents to produce photo ID simply to attend a town hall meeting, he doesn’t feel it necessary that people who receive government subsidies should do the same,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
In a statement, Green said Cantor's criticism is misdirected.
“Services to illegal immigrants are already restricted and not in this health care legislation," Green said. "We need health care reform, and we need to focus on creating the best policy for our country and giving our constituents access to their members. Congressman Cantor and his caucus should join us in our efforts to cover the 47 million uninsured instead of politicizing an issue that has already been dealt with to create panic.”
This story was updated at 1:08 p.m.