During an interview with CNN on Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called out elected GOP officials who have been using the spate of recent protests as an excuse to avoid holding in-person town hall events.
Sanders rebuked GOP lawmakers who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, yet are now refusing to answer to their constituents.
The Vermont senator speculated that the flurry of protests during the past month are a result of President Trump’s unpopular policies, including his position on the Affordable Care Act. Sanders went on to explain that members of Congress cannot wreck havoc on the lives of the American people and then avoid being questioned about it by their constituents.
“And if you need police at the meetings, that’s fine, have police at the meetings, have security at the meetings. But don’t use that as an excuse to run away from your constituents after you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, throwing 20 million people off of health insurance, doing away with preexisting conditions,” Sanders stated. “If you are going to do all those things, answer the questions that your constituents have.”
This week marks the first congressional recess of the year, and many Republican Congress members have found large crowds of angry voters waiting for them as they return to their home districts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently faced a roomful of his constituents who were furious about his position on healthcare.
As one GOP voter loudly confronted McConnell at a town hall event on Tuesday, angry at the lawmaker for failing the people who had elected him, McConnell shrunk back, looking clearly uncomfortable.
“The last I heard, these coal jobs are not coming back, and now these people don’t have the insurance they need because they’re poor. And they worked those coal mines, and they’re sick, the veterans are sick, the veterans are broken down, they’re not getting what they need. If you can answer any of that, I’ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren.”
Instead of taking the questions raised by the woman seriously, McConnell responded by awkwardly laughing off the complaint before dismissing her concerns with a flippant-sounding remark.
“I hope you feel better.”
McConnell also ran into more protestors at a closed-door Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Covington, Kentucky, on Thursday, where one woman was arrested after calmly questioning the elected official.
“We want to talk to you. Please come face-to-face with your constituents and stop pay-to-play.”
Many other GOP leaders have also been greeted with an avalanche of angry questions and jeers upon returning home. Members of Congress, including Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Steve Womack (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Cotton (R-AK), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Joni Ernst (R-IA), all felt the wrath of protestors who demanded opposition to Trump over a variety of positions, including healthcare and immigration policies, as well as his controversial cabinet picks.
Despite many of the complaints coming from Republican voters, on Tuesday President Trump responded to the flurry of protests with a tweet claiming that liberal activists were behind the demonstrations. “The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!”
In typical fashion however, Trump offered no evidence to support his claim.
In response to the protests, some members of Congress have taken to evading their constituents by switching locations, canceling town halls, and opting for conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings.
But as Sanders succinctly stated, “If you don’t have the guts to face your constituents, then you shouldn’t be in the United States Congress.”
[Featured Image by Diego G Diaz/Shutterstock]