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GOP lawmakers face contentious constituents at town halls

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., along with several other fellow Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, faced at-times contentious meetings with constituents on Tuesday. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., along with several other fellow Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, faced at-times contentious meetings with constituents on Tuesday. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Some Republican members of U.S. Congress faced at-times contentious town hall events in which they were booed and questioned over issues related to President Donald Trump's policies.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Tuesday held a town hall-style meeting in a community that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Some members of the crowd booed and shouted "tell the truth" to many of Blackburn's replies.

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When Blackburn was defending the confirmation of new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as someone that will bring "a true love of education reform," a member of the crowd interrupted Blackburn by saying "We're not stupid; you have to do better."

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, held a "veterans roundtable" event in a small, rural town in the eastern part of the state. The Maquoketa City Hall room, where the event was held, holds about 100 people. When Ernst arrived, the room was full and dozens more people were crammed throughout the facility.

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People, some who drove hours to reach the event, chanted "We want our voices heard!" and "Your last term!"

People jeered Ernst as she was giving an answer after someone asked her about the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In a standing-room-only town hall event Tuesday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, faced protesters who denounced Trump.

Zalmay Niazy, who said he is from Afghanistan seeking U.S. asylum and has been shot twice while working as a translator for U.S. armed forces, asked Grassley a question related to Trump's immigration policies.

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"I am a person from a Muslim country and I am a Muslim," Niazy asked. "Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me?"

"Senator, answer his question!" a voice yelled out.

Grassley attempted to avoid the question by suggesting he would address it after first addressing other issues he made in a list prior to the event, which generated vocal discontent from the crowd. Grassley later said he would tell his office to help Niazy.

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., one of the most conservative members of Congress and Trump supporter, was called a liar by participants during a town hall event in Clermont. Some in the crowd urged the more vocal attendees to let Ross speak so he could be held accountable.

Some of the attendees left the event because they were frustrated Ross could not answer questions. Many people wanted to express frustration or voice their concerns.

"This is democracy in action," Ross said. "There are a lot of people who want to participate in the dialogue. I only ask that you give them that respect and civility."

Trump on Tuesday dismissed the apparent dissatisfaction expressed in the town hall events.

"The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!" Trump tweeted.

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