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House Republicans on recess face angry constituents at local town halls

With the House in recess from April 11 to April 20, many representatives have returned to their respective districts to hold town halls and hear the voices of local constituents.

However, these constituents have come armed with lists of complaints, hoping that their representatives will take their thoughts and opinions into account when they return to the Capitol.

Since the beginning of the recess, several House GOP members have faced crowds of angry, vocal constituents at these town hall meetings. Below are a few examples, as reported by AP, of House Republicans who have faced town hall goers described as “boisterous,” “heated” and “critical”:

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MESA, Ariz.— U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs was met with applause and boos at the Arizona Republican’s first town hall meeting since taking office in January.

Biggs addressed topics such as health care and climate change during his town hall in Mesa Tuesday, which was attended by approximately 600 people. Some attendees said there was not enough time for everyone’s questions.

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Constituents from Biggs’ 5th Congressional District in southeastern metro Phoenix had been asking Biggs to hold the meeting.

In February, police were called to Biggs’ office in Mesa during a rally hosted by a group of protesters who said the representative did not make himself available to his voters.

Boos erupted from the crowd, filled with liberal and conservative constituents, when Biggs said he was skeptical of scientists who believe in human-caused global warming after reading reports from both sides.

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TROY, Ohio— An Ohio town hall for the Republican who succeeded former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in Congress got heated as a small but vocal group reacted to his comments on issues from the Environmental Protection Agency to Planned Parenthood.

The protesters were eventually forced to leave after about an hour of vocal opposition to Rep. Warren Davidson.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the protest group was chanting “we the people” as they left the room Tuesday night in Troy, about 68 miles (109 kilometers) north of Cincinnati. Although protesters voiced their disapproval, the majority of the 250-seat town hall was supportive of Davidson, with many wearing Trump stickers.

Davidson won a special election in the western Ohio district seat after Boehner resigned from the House in 2015.

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DENVER— It was one of the most exclusive tickets in town: Only 800 were made available, and those lucky enough to score one had to show photo ID at the gate, where they were issued a wristband and a number. No signs bigger than a sheet of notebook paper were allowed, so as not to obscure anyone’s view.

The rules weren’t for a rock concert but for a town hall meeting Wednesday evening between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and his suburban Denver constituents.

Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since President Donald Trump’s election. Liberal groups and constituents angry about the Trump agenda have flooded public meetings, asking their representatives tough questions, chanting, heckling them and even shouting them down in skirmishes that have made for embarrassing online video.

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On Monday, for example, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, who became infamous for yelling “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress in 2009, was himself confronted at a town hall by constituents chanting, “You lie!”

As a result, some Republicans aren’t holding town halls. And some of those who are going ahead with such events are taking steps to keep things from getting out of control.

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn faced tough questions and jeers during his first town hall meeting of the year in Colorado Springs.

The Gazette reports that more than 140 people packed into a room at a police substation for Wednesday’s raucous meeting with the Republican lawmaker, including dozens of anti-Trump activists. At least 40 people waited outside, unable to fit in the room.

Whenever Lamborn referred to “Obamacare”, some in the crowd would shout back its official name “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA.”

Lamborn said long distance work was still being done by members of Congress on health care during the current recess.

After the meeting, Lamborn said he enjoyed it, calling it “democracy in action.” He is holding meetings in Canon City and Cripple Creek on Thursday.

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FLANDERS, N.J.— New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance faced skeptical and boisterous voters Wednesday night who said they would be voting him out of office when he held his first town hall since the GOP effort to replace the Affordable Care Act failed.

Lance met with hundreds of constituents in his northern New Jersey district at Mount Olive High School in Flanders. It was his third town hall since Republican President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January.

The event came while lawmakers are on their Easter and Passover recess, with Trump’s approval ratings flagging and after the president’s’ health care legislation fell apart last month — thanks in part to Republicans like Lance who said they opposed it.

Unlike the previous events where protesters carried signs and held makeshift rallies outside the event, Wednesday’s town hall had fewer people and placards, though police blocked people from taking them inside the auditorium.

Lance, who was first elected in 2008, was booed loudly when he said he supported blocking federal funding for abortion. He was also booed after he told voters President Barack Obama should have tried to work with Congress more on regulations, which led to an outburst from the audience that got Lance’s attention.

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla.— An Oklahoma congressman canceled one of several planned town hall meetings in his district, citing safety concerns as his reason for not meeting with voters, who have been venting at Republican officials at such events in recent months.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin planned a stop Tuesday night at a high school in Tahlequah, about 145 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. But the three-term GOP congressman, who has been shouted down at recent town hall meetings, canceled the event shortly before the start.

In a statement, Mullin mentioned “an escalation of protesters” at recent town halls throughout the country and said he needs to provide a safe environment for all attendees. Mullin has planned 26 town halls in his district during Congress’ recess.

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