Roundup: Big Crowds Still Coming Out to Hear From Members

Posted August 28, 2009 at 10:23am

On the second to last Thursday of recess, more Members engaged in back-and-forth conversations about health care with constituents.

In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) told a gathering of more than 500 people that she doesn’t support a public option but does think the current health care system needs to be more cost efficient. In her first and only scheduled town hall since the Senate adjourned on Aug. 7, Landrieu emphasized that she will not toe the party line.

“This is not about Democrats or Republicans or President Obama,— she said, according to the Times-Picayune. “This is about listening to the people I represent and seeing if we can find a way to better coverage.—

The three-term Senator also told questioners that she would not support a bill that extends coverage to non-Americans or one that uses public funds for abortions. She won re-election with 52 percent of the vote in 2008 and won’t be up again until 2014.

In Delaware, Republican Rep. Mike Castle, who voted against the health care reform proposal in the Education and Labor Committee’s July 17 markup, agreed that the health care system needs a change, according to the Associated Press. Yet he told a crowd of about 250 in Newark that he was worried about the bill’s cost and about the way a potential tax increase would affect small business. The nine-term Congressman and former governor is likely to get a competitive challenge from former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D) next year.

Fellow Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) also opposed the bill in the Education and Labor Committee. She told about 500 people in Walla Walla that she wants there to be competition for health insurance, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

“I get concerned when either the government or private companies get too much of the market share,— she said, adding that only raising taxes or rationing care would provide for the public insurance option. McMorris Rodgers, vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, is in her third term representing the eastern side of Washington.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) supported the bill in the Education and Labor Committee, and he defended his position in a town hall in Farmingville, according to Newsday. About 900 people listened inside Sachem High School East, while another 500 didn’t make it inside. The four-term Congressman left quickly after a rowdy, two-hour meeting. Representing eastern Long Island, Bishop is unlikely to face a stiff re-election challenge in 2010.

Upstate, Rep. Eric Massa (D) conducted his final town hall in Victor, taking 48 questions over four hours, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. He told the crowd he does not support the health care reform bill, telling listeners he does not think the public option is politically viable.

See a list of today’s town hall’s at Congress.org.