Rowdy crowd interrupts Va. Congressman's town hall

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., and the crowd at his town hall on May 9, 2017.


MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Critics of Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Brat and the House health care bill he voted for packed a raucous town hall meeting in his Virginia district Tuesday night, booing and shouting down the congressman from start to finish. 

Brat is the latest in a series of lawmakers across the country who have gotten an earful from constituents at town hall meetings since last week's passage of the House health care bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Hundreds of people packed the suburban Richmond church for the meeting Brat co-hosted with a Republican state senator, and dozens of protesters lined up outside and chanted "let history know we said no," CBS affiliate WTVR reports

Inside, opponents appeared to far outnumber supporters. 

The jeering and shouting began after the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance - while Brat was on stage but before he'd begun speaking - and it never let up. 

WTVR reports that Brat called out Democrats early in the meeting, asking "how many people wanted Hillary to be president?" The question was greeted by cheers.

A former economics professor who defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a historic 2014 upset, Brat briefly discussed the health care bill before seguing into dozens of audience questions. Most of them were about the measure.

Critics shouted him down as he talked, sometimes to the point where his answers became indistinguishable or got cut off. 

He frequently admonished the audience for the noise, and his co-host, Sen. Amanda Chase, at one point called for security to move toward the main doors. Some audience members turned to yell at one another. 

Afterward, Arthur Bailey, 48, said he thought Brat had been evasive and not answered several questions. 

Bailey was wearing a black T-shirt with the word "Resist" across it, which he said he'd made himself. He said he sees health care as "the primary issue of our time," and hopes the enthusiasm on display Tuesday night will carry on through the 2018 congressional elections.

Craig DiSesa, 57, came out to support Brat, who he said did the best he could to deal with the constant disruptions.

"Dave was trying to give them the facts. I'm not sure they were listening," he said.

Lawmakers across the country have faced angry constituents at town halls since Trump's election, and several other meetings have turned testy since last week's passage of the health care bill.

Over the weekend, Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York was booed during a meeting. In Iowa, Rep. Rod Blum, stormed out of a TV interview when pressed about why he screens those who attend his public meetings. He then held a town hall, where he was booed and jeered by constituents.

And in Idaho, a Friday meeting erupted in boos after U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador said no one has died because they didn't have access to health care.

Brat held another town hall meeting in Blackstone in February, where he was loudly heckled when he defended President Donald Trump and his policies on health care and immigration.

Fellow GOP U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett was also hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday night in his district.