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 SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Hillicon Valley: US threatens to hold intel from Germany over Huawei | GOP senator targets FTC over privacy | Bipartisan bill would beef up 'internet of things' security | Privacy groups seize on suspended NSA program | Tesla makes U-turn Shuttering of NSA surveillance program emboldens privacy groups MORE (Wis.), Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate confirms Trump court pick despite missing two 'blue slips' Senate reignites blue slip war over Trump court picks New push to open banks to marijuana industry MORE (Idaho) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  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 ChaffetzLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Top Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ Boehner working on memoir: report MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate rejects border declaration in major rebuke of Trump Hillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court 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 MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyBusiness groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace Overnight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Will Washington finally do something about high drug prices? MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans Hillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction MORE (Ore.) — are Democrats.

The Republicans on that list include Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll Divisions emerge over House drug price bills MORE (Iowa) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid Former Texas lawmaker Blake Farenthold resigns from lobbying job 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 Patrick DuffyHouse to push back at Trump on border On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Rare bipartisanship in lame duck Congress battling the ‘WTO’ of insurance regulation 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.