GOP rep faces jeers at town hall after prescreening constituents
A Republican congressman from Iowa was greeted by a rancorous town hall crowd on Monday after his staff prescreened attendees ahead of the meeting.
Rep. Rod Blum (R) took the stage at a Dubuque high school to shouts and jeers over his vote last week in favor of a Republican plan to repeal large parts of ObamaCare.
Blum, who is in his second term and a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, had reportedly sought to screen constituents appearing at the town hall meeting to make sure that they, in fact, lived in his district.
At the meeting, some constituents called Blum a “liar,” and one asked if he had even read the healthcare bill.
“Oh, I’ve read it,” Blum said. “This bill, TrumpCare — whatever you want to call it — is about the individual market only. The individual market only. That’s 12,000 people in my district.”
“If you’re getting your insurance through the group healthcare marketplace, your employer, nothing changes,” he said, drawing shouts and boos from the audience.
But Blum also acknowledged that the bill may have been rushed through the House too quickly. GOP leadership brought the measure to a vote without waiting for an assessment of its cost and impact by the Congressional Budget Office.
Republican lawmakers across the country have, in recent months, seen a wave of opposition and anger overtake their town hall events, as constituents show up to voice concern over healthcare reform efforts and President Trump’s policies.
Ahead of the town hall, Blum got up and walked away from a TV interview after being asked by a reporter if it was fair to screen constituents, and if he would accept money from outside groups.
“I don’t represent all — I represent the 1st District of Iowa,” Blum told the reporter. “That would be like saying, ‘Shouldn’t I be able to, even though I live in Dubuque, be able to go vote in Iowa City during the election because I’d like to vote in that district instead?'”
Blum faces the potential for a challenging reelection bid next year. Trump won narrowly in his district in November, and Democrats have made clear their intention to target GOP-held swing districts in the 2018 midterms.
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