Amid voter anger, most House members skipping August town halls

Sen. John McCain speaks with constituents during a town hall meeting at St. Mark's United Methodist Church on Tuesday Aug. 9, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. An angry crowd of constituents voiced their frustration at McCain over issues ranging from characterizing "tea-party" members as "hobbits" to the nation's faltering economy. AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Benjie Sanders

Jason Chaffetz
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah meets with constituents after a town hall meeting in American Fork, Utah, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011.
AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

Most voters are unhappy with Congress, but there's a good chance they won't get to tell that to their representative in person this summer.

Just about 40 percent of members of the House are holding town hall meetings this August, according to a survey from the nonpartisan group No Labels. The House is in recess this month, as it traditionally is, in part to give members time to meet with their constituents.

No Labels contacted all 432 sitting members of Congress (there are currently three vacancies), and just 174 members told the group they are holding town halls. Five members didn't respond, and two (Reps. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and John Barrow, D-Ga.) said they were unavailable due to health issues.

Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of forgoing the traditional August town hall, the group found -- nearly 68 percent of Democrats and nearly 51 percent of Republicans have no town halls scheduled.

A handful of Republicans, Politico reported last week, have opted to skip traditional town halls in favor of appearing at events with an entry fee. For instance, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn., who is not holding any town halls, spoke at a $30-per-plate "CEO to CEO" forum earlier this month, hosted by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry. Protesters outside the event were barred from entering because they were were not chamber members, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported.

A liberal coalition including groups like MoveOn.org has organized protests at both Republican and Democratic House offices, urging members to focus on job creation. While those protests have been organized by liberal groups, polls show just about everyone is dissatisfied with Congress -- disapproval of Congress hit an all-time high of 82 percent in a CBS News/ New York Times poll earlier this month, with just 14 percent approving of Congress' performance.

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