House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, have written an op-ed for USA Today discussing the latest town hall disruptions, which they argue should not impede health care reform.
Deeming the protests "un-American" because they disrupt meetings between congresspeople and their constituents, Pelosi and Hoyer both expressed their unfavorable views of the incidents.
Protesters at some town hall meetings have drowned out congresspeople and caused unrest and even violence. They have offered slogans such as "Tyranny!" "Just say no!" and "No Obama Care."
Congresspeople home for their August recess have been confronted by protesters around their homes and offices. The Washington Post reports Rep. Baron P. Hill had so many incoming calls and visitors that his phone lines became jammed. He has been holding clandestine meetings with constituents to avoid any major disruptions and allow everyone to speak freely without protesters shouting over them.
"These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades," Pelosi and Hoyer write. "The dialogue between elected representatives and constituents is at the heart of our democracy and plays an integral role in assuring that the legislation we write reflects the genuine needs and concerns of the people we represent."
They go on to reiterate the importance of passing health care reform as soon as possible and not allowing the "ugly campaign" to hinder the progress of extending health coverage to millions of Americans.
Reform would provide citizens with better choice, stability, lower costs, and better quality, Pelosi and Hoyer write, adding that "people must be allowed to learn the facts" about health care.
They write that despite the disruptions, congresspeople will make their best efforts to hear the concerns of their constituents and explain any legislation in full detail.
"We are confident that our principles of affordable, quality health care will stand up to any and all critics," write Pelosi and Hoyer.
UPDATE 2:03 p.m. ET: House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has released a statement knocking Pelosi and Hoyer's op-ed piece and condoning the actions of the town hall protesters.
Boehner stated that the Democrats are actually the ones who have worked for months to silence all opposition concerning the health care debate. He went on to say that the majority of Americans are either concerned about or "downright oppose" the Democrats' reform plan - a statement contradicted by a CBS/New York Times poll taken in late July which recorded the support of a government-run health program at 66 percent.
"The fact is Democrats have not been able to address the very real concerns the American people have," said Boehner. He defended the latest unrest caused by protesters by saying that they deserve answers about the costs and benefits of the proposed reform - answers which they have yet to receive.
"It's time for Democrats to start listening. When we return to Washington in September, Democrats should scrap their costly plan and finally work on bipartisan reforms that give Americans what they are seeking: better access to affordable care," said Boehner.