Speed Reads


After a TV interview he cut short, Iowa GOP congressman faces an even tougher town hall

After narrowly voting to approve the American Health Care Act last Thursday, House Republicans (and their Democratic colleagues) returned home to their districts for an 11-day break. While GOP leaders and the Trump administration are trying to beat back the narrative that their health-care bill would cost millions of Americans their health insurance and sharply raise prices for people with pre-existing conditions, some House Republicans faced more local versions of that battle back home. On Monday, the most high-profile AHCA clash was in Dubuque, Iowa, the home of Rep. Rod Blum (R).

On Monday afternoon, Blum sat down for an interview with reporter Josh Scheinblum of KCRG-TV Dubuque, but it didn't last long. When Scheinblum asked Blum why he was prescreening attendees to his four town halls this week, Blum explained he only wanted people to attend from his district, and when Scheinblum followed up with a question about out-of-district donors, Blum, 62, walked out.

Soon after that clip aired on local TV, Blum held his first town hall meeting in the gym of Dubuque Senior High School, and it was not a friendly crowd. Blum, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, fielded a lot of questions about the AHCA, which he voted for. He actually agreed with many constituents that the bill was rushed through and flawed, though his complaint was that it wouldn't kill off the Affordable Care Act comprehensively enough — he referred to the AHCA as TrumpCare several times, and also ObamaCare 2.0.

"The way Blum struggled Monday night to explain his vote — through the loud boos of rowdy, impolite, and infuriated constituents — is just a narrow sampling of the growing concern and confusion caused by Republican plans to revamp the nation's health-care system," says Ed O'Keefe at The Washington Post. You can read more about Blum's town hall at The Washington Post and watch some footage of the waving red signs at KCRG-TV9.