Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that he is not organizing public town halls due to the threat of protests by people from outside of his district.
Many congressional Republicans have avoided holding town halls because of the contentious healthcare reform, which has already resulted in several raucous events, some of which have gone viral, The Hill reports.
"Aside from the obvious security concerns, what we have found is there are people who are trying to come in from out of the district to disrupt town hall meetings and not have a civil discussion, so what I have been doing is looking for new and creative ways to interact with my constituents in a civil way," Ryan said.
"That's why I have done a number of telephone town hall meetings, which I find very effective as people don't have to travel," the speaker added. "I do office hours. I just did them this morning in Janesville. In addition, I am doing a lot of business ones."
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He went on to argue that a media presence at such events had drawbacks.
"I find when you guys are there, people kind of clam up," he said. "They get a little nervous, but when you do business town halls without media it is very interactive, so I am finding a lot of different ways to have a good civil dialogue with constituents."
The Hill has asked Ryan's staff to clarify whether this will be a permanent measure, but the answer is unclear.
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The only Republican senator to hold unscreened town halls on the healthcare issue so far in July is Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas. Moran recently came out against the draft legislation prepared by Senate Republicans prior to the July 4 recess.
"It's worthy of a national debate that includes legislative hearings," Moran told The Washington Post. "It needs to be less politics and more policy."
Planned Parenthood and the American Association of Retired People, among others, transported people to Palco, where the town hall took place.
A woman was seen standing behind Moran holding up caricatures of Republican Party politicians with the warning: "When you lose your health care, remember who took it away."
Moran told his audience that he did not want to cut Medicare.
"I have concern about people with disabilities, the frail and elderly," added Moran. "I also know that if we want health care in rural places and across Kansas, Medicare and Medicaid need to compensate for the services they provide."