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 SensenbrennerWhy Congress needs to reform structured settlements Congress should act to stop states from battling over online sales taxes Congress should prioritize small farmers and taxpayers over Big Ag MORE (Wis.), Sens. Mike CrapoMike CrapoCongress should ‘phone a friend’ when sanctioning Russia Sherrod Brown looks to defy Trump trend in Ohio McConnell 'not optimistic' Dodd-Frank overhaul will happen MORE (Idaho) and Jerry MoranJerry MoranWeek ahead: Obama's CIA chief to testify on Russia probe IT modernization bill passes House Cost of key cyber bill drops by billions after revisions 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 ChaffetzChaffetz doubles down on request for FBI memos Chaffetz on leaving Congress: 'At some point, you've got to get off this crazy train' Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonSenators rip billion Army 'debacle' GOP senator: Pence ‘deserved better treatment’ at Notre Dame Congress should let local communities set their own PACE 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 MerkleyRussia probes in limbo after special prosecutor announcement Special counsel appointment gets bipartisan praise Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRon WydenMnuchin: WH won't double-count economic growth Dem senator: White House stonewalling on important information Overnight Healthcare: CBO fallout | GOP senators distance themselves from House bill | Trump budget chief blasts score | Schumer says House bill belongs 'in the trash' MORE (Ore.) — are Democrats.

The Republicans on that list include Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (Iowa) and Rand PaulRand PaulSenate gears up for fight on Trump's 0B Saudi Arabia arms sale Paul: 0B Saudi arms deal ‘a travesty’ Senate feels pressure for summer healthcare vote MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdLawmakers move to boost transparency of government’s cyber vulnerability disclosure Uber tracking controversy catches Congress's eye Privacy and security: Protecting your data and digital engagement at the border 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 DuffyGOP lawmaker clashes with CNN anchor over Russia probe Allow peaceful, law-abiding working immigrants out of the shadows GOP rep: Dems have done nothing to fix ObamaCare 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.