Congressional Republicans AWOL From August Town Hall Meetings
August 16, 2013 by Ben Bullard
No wonder the public’s disgust with Congress surpasses even the disdain they hold for President Barack Obama.
As Congress takes off the month of August, back-home constituents expected an opportunity to debrief their Senators and Representatives following a dismal, gridlocked, ineffectual Summer term.
But many Congressional Republicans would rather hunker down in private over the five-week August recess than face constituents on both sides of the political spectrum angry over the Legislative branch’s milquetoast indecision on immigration; the Federal budget and the national debt ceiling; Obamacare, agriculture subsidies; transparency and civil liberties; and — well, just about everything else.
Take the case of Dallas-area Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who has yet to reconnoiter with the same Tea Party base that helped him win his seat in the first place. “He can just give us a date,” Katrina Pierson, one of Sessions’ conservative constituents, told The New York Times. “We’ll set it up.”
So far, so silent. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is playing golf with Donald Trump. So-called conservatives like Texas’ Sessions and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are simply missing in (in)action.
Here’s Breitbart’s rundown of some more GOP legislators known to not be participating in the dirty work of facing their constituents — that is to say, their bosses — so that they can go back to Washington, D.C., and do the job they were hired to do:
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL); Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AK); Rep. John Kline (R-MN); Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX); Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chair of the House Rules Committee; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has “not announced any town halls but did participate in them in 2009.”
As The Times’ piece points out, the GOP’s shunning of town hall feedback is strategic. People like Graham know they’re in trouble with conservatives, and they simply would rather let them eat cake. “Congressional offices have gotten increasingly clever about keeping their schedules under wraps,” waiting until the last minute to announce any public feedback meetings, holding meetings in tiny venues and even front-loading the crowd with ardent supporters, who are asked to show up earlier than the announced start time in order to file in first.
Matt Kibbe, President of conservative activist group FreedomWorks, said in May that Graham in particular exemplifies GOP hypocrisy at its worst. “Lindsey Graham could be replaced with someone worthy of that seat,” he said. “The way he lashed out at Rand Paul [for filibustering on drones], he’s begging for a primary.”
But Kibbe saved an even more apt barb for his comment to The Times this week. Wondering aloud why Graham and other GOP do-nothings won’t come out of their shells for frank town hall meetings during their 35-day vacay, he observed:
“To quote Lindsey Graham, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of.”
Follow who’s holding town hall meetings and who’s not this month over at the FreedomWorks “demand a town hall” Web page.