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 SensenbrennerGOP rep: Funds from Mexican cartels can pay for border wall GOP rep: Trump or Mike Pence will be president for next 4 years Wyden, Sensenbrenner lead February town halls MORE (Wis.), Sens. Mike CrapoMike CrapoLawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities Senators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick 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 (Idaho) and Jerry MoranJerry MoranGOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate 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 ChaffetzOversight chair: 'Ridiculous' to call for investigation into Nunes The Hill's 12:30 Report Secret Service agents set for discipline after fence-jumping incident: report MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonCotton: House 'moved a bit too fast' on healthcare Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Senators introduce new Iran sanctions 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 MerkleyThe Hill’s Whip List: 32 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Dem senator accuses Trump of 'dangerous tilt towards authoritarianism' Overnight Regulation: Dems punch back in fight over CEO pay rule MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRon WydenOvernight Tech: Bill blocking internet privacy rules heads to Trump's desk | Trump taps antitrust chief | Dems push FCC on cellphone cybersecurity Overnight Cybersecurity: First GOP lawmaker calls for Nunes to recuse himself | DHS misses cyber strategy deadline | Dems push for fix to cellphone security flaw Dem lawmakers push for FCC to tackle major cellphone security flaw MORE (Ore.) — are Democrats.

The Republicans on that list include Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report RNC head: Dems acting ‘petty’ to Gorsuch Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee MORE (Iowa) and Rand PaulRand PaulTrump: 'No doubt' we'll make a deal on healthcare Overnight Defense: General says US strike probably led to civilian deaths | Tillerson to push NATO on spending | Trump taps F-35 chief Senate backs Montenegro's NATO membership MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdOvernight Energy: Backlash to Trump’s proposed EPA cuts grows Watchdog piles on criticism of offshore drilling regulator Federal court: Texas House districts must be redrawn 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 rep: Dems have done nothing to fix ObamaCare CNN host, GOP rep spar over Trump wiretap talk GOP targets Baldwin over Wisconsin VA scandal 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.