In a tense, public showdown over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is being echoed at contentious Republican town halls across the country, a distraught woman at Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) town hall on Wednesday stood up and told Cotton: “My husband is dying.”
The woman said that her husband is suffering from Alzheimers and dementia, and her voice shook with emotion as she said: “And you want to stand there with him at home, expect us to be calm, cool, and collected? Well, what kind of insurance do you have?”
The crowd erupted in a standing ovation.
Cotton held the town hall at the insistence of Ozark Indivisible, one of the many groups nationwide inspired by the Indivisible Guide, demonstrating that public pressure is making a difference in forcing reluctant politicians to speak to voters who seek to hold them to account in the Trump era.
Later in the evening, another woman took the microphone and told Cotton that without the ACA, she would die. “Will you commit to replacements in the same way that you committed to the repeal?” she asked.
And in another widely shared exchange, a seven-year-old boy named Toby asked Cotton why he supported Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border over funding PBS. “He’s deleting all the parks and PBS Kids, just to make a wall,” Toby said. “He shouldn’t do all that stuff for just a wall.”
That same evening in Louisiana and New Jersey, similar scenes unfolded as voters confronted their own Republican members of Congress.
At a town hall in Metairie, La., Sen. Bill Cassidy presented a Republican healthcare plan to replace the ACA and constituents turned their backs in protest. One woman charged that her young daughter would lose her healthcare under such a plan.
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“This child in front of me is completely uninsurable. This is not an abstraction. This child is uninsurable under this plan!” she shouted.
Hundreds of protesters also greeted Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) at his town hall in Branchburg, N.J., in a chanting crowd that at one point even featured “protest llamas”:
Faced with the prospect of actually meeting with constituents angry about the country’s far-right turn under President Donald Trump, many Republicans are still choosing to avoid public town halls.
One such politician on Wednesday was Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who dodged a town hall that saw a crowd of 1,800 turn out in the hopes of hearing him speak, and instead attended a private fundraising dinner:
As the contentious scenes continue to unfold across the country for the rest of the Congressional recess this week, follow along under the hashtag #ResistanceRecess: