Congressional Republicans returned this weekend to their districts to get another earful about ObamaCare, while giving mixed statements about how close they are to replacing the health care law and suggesting that avoiding a looming government shutdown is now the priority.
California GOP Rep. Tom McClintock again held a town hall event in which residents expressed concerns about the GOP-led Congress repealing and replacing ObamaCare with more expensive and less comprehensive coverage.
“Are you aware that you don’t answer questions?” one town hall attendee asked McClintock at the event outside Sacramento.
Another attendee suggested McClintock was a “crappy” representative and that Republicans could vote with Democrats to replace him.
“That’s what elections are for,” responded McClintock, who in February faced such a rowdy town hall crowd that he exited with a police escort.
An ObamaCare replacement bill from House Republican leaders and backed by President Trump failed last month to even get a vote in the lower chamber, amid strong opposition from its most conservative members.
Trump and the leaders at first appeared ready to move ahead to tax reform and other big-ticket policy initiatives.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday before leaving Washington for a two-week break that members have “come together” on a new amendment that would lower premiums and provide broad access to care.
However, Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Charlie Dent downplayed Ryan’s remarks and said the more immediate concern is passing a budget before the end of the month, when the federal government technically runs out of money and largely shutters.
“I don’t believe we are as close as many would say,” Dent told Fox News, while arguing the House still has nearly a dozen appropriations bills to pass to avoid a politically damaging shutdown.
“We’ll be applying all of our time in April making sure we complete our work,” he said.
In Kentucky, several dozen people — including doctors and patients — staged a town-hall style event on a sidewalk outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Louisville office.
Among those who attended was Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, who said lawmakers have “no alternative” to ObamaCare, in which consumers can pick from private insurers, except the so-called “single-payer option” in which they pay state governments for health insurance.
“We need to talk to this man right here,” said Yarmuth, pointing to McConnell’s district office.