Home for recess, lawmakers face fiery town hall crowds on Trump, abortion and more

Intense town halls
Intense town halls 02:15

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are home for a two-week recess, which means they are coming in for another round of anger over Washington’s recent actions and inaction.

In Mesa, Arizona, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake weathered two-and-a-half hours of fury over everything from President Trump’s pricey trips to Mar-a-Lago to the GOP’s attempt to kill Obamacare.

Sen. Jeff Flake at his town hall CBS News

Flake was a top GOP critic of candidate Trump, but since Election Day, he’s backed off.

“I hope behind that smile you are doing some serious soul-searching,” one audience member said.

Flake is not the only lawmaker getting an earful this week.

Rep. Joe Wilson CBS News

In South Carolina, Republican Congressman Joe Wilson was pelted with the same phrase he notoriously shouted at President Obama in 2009: “You lie!”

While in Oklahoma, Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin surprised angry voters by claiming they don’t pay his salary.

“You say you pay for me to do this? Bullcrap. I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go,” Mullin said.

One of the biggest flashpoints was a law signed by the president on Thursday allowing states to cut off funding for clinics that provide abortions.

“Why is it your right to take away my right to choose Planned Parenthood?” one woman asked Flake, who supported the measure.

The issue cropped up at Democratic town halls too, like one in Missouri for Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Sen. Claire McCaskill CBS News

“By supporting the largest abortion provider in this state and this nation you are supporting an intrinsic evil,” one woman said.

The intensity at these town halls has subsided somewhat since the last congressional recess in February. Back then, Democratic voters feared that the GOP was about to replace Obamacare, but so far, the party has not been able to round up the votes for its plan.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.