GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls

The 10 lawmakers who have held the most in-person town hall meetings over the last two years are all Republicans.

Since the beginning of the 114th Congress in 2015, four Republicans — Rep. Jim SensenbrennerJames SensenbrennerCruz: Seize money from drug lords to fund border wall GOP rep defends online privacy rollback: ‘Nobody has got to use the internet’ GOP rep: Funds from Mexican cartels can pay for border wall MORE (Wis.), Sens. Mike CrapoMike CrapoBattle begins over Wall Street rules Lawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities Senators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick MORE (Idaho) and Jerry MoranJerry MoranAt the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security MORE (Kan.) and former Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) — held more than 100 in-person town hall meetings.

And 24 of the 28 lawmakers who have held the most town halls, according to records maintained by the independent site Legistorm, are Republicans.

Protests at town hall meetings by those defending the Affordable Care Act have led some lawmakers to pare back or cancel their in-person events. 

Critics of President Trump and people worried that ObamaCare’s repeal could leave them without health insurance have shouted, jeered and asked tough questions to a number of Republican lawmakers, earning headlines and cable news coverage in the process.

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMichael Flynn’s troubles mount Overnight Cybersecurity: DNC hackers also targeted French presidential candidate | Ex-acting AG Yates to testify at Senate Russia hearing Schumer: Flynn news may be 'tip of the iceberg' MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonOvernight Cybersecurity: White House adviser ditches cyber panel over 'fake news' | Trump cyber order 'close' | GOP senator pushes for clean renewal of foreign intel law Overnight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief's net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronaut GOP senator pushes for clean reauthorization of foreign intel law MORE (R-Ark.) both came under fire at recent events, while Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) had to be escorted out of one raucous gathering by local police.

Democratic activists and those who support ObamaCare have castigated Republicans for skipping town hall meetings during the February recess, when more than 200 members of Congress did not hold in-person town hall events.

Some of those who faced their angry constituents dismissed protesters as little more than paid instigators. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called those who showed up at an event in Salt Lake City “a concerted effort in part to just cause chaos.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the protesters a “very paid, AstroTurf-type movement,” though he gave no evidence that any of the protesters had been paid to show up.

The Legistorm data shows that most of the members holding dozens and dozens of town halls are in the GOP.

For example, 13 members of Congress have held more than 50 such events since Jan. 1, 2015. Only two of them — Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Lawmakers look to delay labor board ruling Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Dem senator on Gorsuch: 'The dark deed is done’ MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRon WydenTrump gets tough with Canada Five things to watch for in Trump’s tax plan Overnight Finance: Dems want ObamaCare subsidies for extra military spending | Trade battle: Woe, Canada? | Congress nears deal to help miners | WH preps to release tax plan MORE (Ore.) — are Democrats.

The Republicans on that list include Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump, lower court nominees need American Bar Association review Trump eyeing second Supreme Court seat Grassley: Another Supreme Court vacancy likely this summer MORE (Iowa) and Rand PaulRand PaulTrump’s must take action in Macedonia to fix the damage done by Obama and Clinton We can put America first by preventing public health disasters Conservative activists want action from Trump MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdRepublicans rush to help shape Trump’s infrastructure plan Overnight Cybersecurity: Rice denies wrongly unmasking Trump team | Dems plead for electric grid cyber funds | China reportedly targeting cloud providers Overnight Tech: Bill would require warrants for border phone searches | Qualcomm wants antitrust case gone | Ex-Obama defense chief seeks tech help for Pentagon MORE (Texas).

Among the 50 members of Congress who have held the most in-person town hall meetings over the last two years, 39 are Republicans.

Some members of Congress claim more town hall meetings than the LegiStorm data indicates. Mark Bednar, a spokesman for Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyAllow peaceful, law-abiding working immigrants out of the shadows GOP rep: Dems have done nothing to fix ObamaCare CNN host, GOP rep spar over Trump wiretap talk MORE (R-Wis.), said Duffy has held 55 town hall meetings since 2015.

The more recent reluctance of national Republicans to appear at town hall meetings recalls the summer of 2009, when voters’ anger over Democratic efforts to overhaul healthcare in the midst of the recession led to heated confrontations that played in an endless loop on cable television networks. 

Some Democrats dismissed those efforts, too, as paid protest movements. Republicans won back control of the House of Representatives the following year. 

This story was updated at 2:46 p.m.