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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 SensenbrennerHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Scott Fitzgerald wins Wisconsin GOP primary to replace Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner MORE (Wis.), Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoMcConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed MORE (Idaho) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSweeping financial crimes bill to hitch a ride on defense measure It's time for Congress to act: Save jobs and stabilize the aerospace industry Lobbying world 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.

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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 ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Compromise defense bill excludes competing nuclear testing language Republican senators introduce bill to protect government workers from being targeted at home 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.”

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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 MerkleyDemocrats introduce legislation to strike slavery exception in 13th Amendment Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising MORE (Ore.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Government used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 | Defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal, includes White House cyber czar position | Officials warn hackers are targeting vaccine supply chain Government used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (Ore.) — are Democrats.

The Republicans on that list include Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Republican senators urge Trump to dodge pardon controversies Grassley suggests moderate Democrats for next Agriculture secretary MORE (Iowa) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Senate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Tim Walberg (Mich.) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (Texas).

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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 DuffyCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Bottom line McCarthy blasts Pelosi's comments on Trump's weight 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.