RICHMOND — Progressive activists, eager to sustain their momentum after helping to torpedo GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, invited Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) on Monday to hold a town hall meeting on health care.
“We’re concerned because it’s like the zombie bill,” said Carolina Lugo, a leader with Together We Will RVA, noting that Republican legislation to repeal and replace the federal health-care law keeps getting “resurrected . . . when it appears to most rational people that it is done.”
But Brat, who was jeered and shouted down during the two town hall meetings he presided over earlier this year, said he will not attend.
“It is clear these individuals are more interested in scoring political points with TV cameras running than in having a constructive dialogue about issues,” Brat said in an email. “I will not spend 90 minutes being shouted at by individuals who have already demonstrated they have no interest in a productive exchange of ideas.”
The invitation came from Lugo’s group, three Richmond-area Indivisible chapters and the Culpeper Persisters. They asked Brat to attend a town hall meeting they scheduled for later this month in Henrico County, part of his suburban Richmond district. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which would like to see Brat defeated in the 2018 election, also weighed in.
“Dave Brat should get good and used to hearing from his constituents, whether he shows up to listen or not,” DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter said.
Since the election in November, Republican lawmakers increasingly have encountered constituents at town hall meetings who are angry about the proposed repeal of President Barack Obama’s sweeping health-care law and other issues. Many Republicans have decided to avoid such confrontations.
Brat, an Obamacare critic and former professor who defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary upset, has not spent the August congressional recess in hiding.
His Facebook posts chronicle appearances around his district, some open to the public and announced in advance, such as a National Night Out event in Chesterfield County. But at least so far, Brat has not offered himself up for freewheeling question-and-answer sessions.
“To best engage and listen to the concerns of constituents across a diverse political spectrum in a rational manner, I am spending the month of August traveling throughout the 7th District to meet directly with hundreds of individuals at local events, community gatherings, and businesses,” he said in his email.