While Congress is in recess this week, the voters back home will be demanding answers from their representatives.
Activists have organized dozens of rallies targeting members of Congress at town hall meetings and other appearances, building on a wave of protests over the last month.
People can find events near them by checking the Resistance Recess site, a project of the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org. The site calls on Americans to hold their representatives accountable for plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for supporting President Donald Trump.
The Town Hall Project site, run by Democratic-leaning volunteers, has a calendar of town halls and other public appearances beyond this week.
The current recess “is our biggest opportunity yet to make sure that Republicans who side with Trump are held accountable and that Democrats understand that using every single tool at their disposal to block Trump’s toxic agenda is not just justified, but absolutely necessary for our democracy — and our most cherished values — to survive the Trump era,” MoveOn organizing director Victoria Kaplan told Slate on Friday.
The Resistance Recess site includes tips for pressuring lawmakers, asking targeted questions and taking video. It lists events with representatives from both parties.
But Republicans have faced the brunt of voters’ ire in recent weeks. Protesters have shown up at town halls held by Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and others. They’ve pressured the congressmen over GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
“You, an elected official, [are] giving misinformation,” a woman in the crowd replied. “Right now, our taxes do not pay for abortions.”
Earlier this month, Chaffetz faced boos and chants of “Do your job!” and “Chaffetz is a coward” from a large crowd during a town hall held at a Utah high school.
The Utah Republican Party responded by urging lawmakers to hold tele-town halls if they “feel they cannot provide adequate security” for in-person events or to hold smaller meetings in a more controlled environment.
“This organized mob has displayed hostile, violent, and deliberately disruptive behavior, which is unfair to constituents as it hijacks town hall meetings to prevent any type of meaningful discussion,” the state party said.
The current wave of progressive town hall protests and citizen pressure has been compared to the tea party activism that disrupted Democrats’ town halls and helped get Republicans elected in the early years of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Some GOP lawmakers and their supporters have dismissed the latest protests as the work of radicals and tried to delegitimize the protesters by claiming they’re being paid. Protesters have rejected the idea that they’re being compensated as well as the implication that they’re not good Americans. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some funding behind the organizing effort. Democratic super PAC Priorities USA launched a digital advertising campaign on Friday to publicize Republicans’ town hall meetings this week.
In the first two months of this congressional session, Republican lawmakers have scheduled fewer than half the number of town halls they held in the first two months of the previous Congress, according to Vice.
Some of those who are skipping out on constituent meetings will still be targeted at events organized by activists who’ve invited the representatives to attend ― like a Tuesday rally at the Troy, Michigan, office of Rep. David Trott (R). Protesters have accused Trott of “chickening out” by refusing to meet with them to address their concerns about repealing Obamacare.