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Republicans don't hold town halls anymore

Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

Senate Republicans have postponed the vote on Obamacare repeal until after Congress’s upcoming July 4 recess, but they won’t use that extra time to hold listening sessions with their constituents.

Only two Republican senators — Jerry Moran of Kansas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — have town hall meetings scheduled for the break, according Sarah Davis, a spokesperson at the Town Hall Project. Moran will speak to his constituents on July 6, and Cassidy is scheduled to talk on June 30 about flood prevention. None of the other members of the caucus have announced plans for a town hall.

The Senate’s health bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, was released as a draft last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had planned to hold a vote on it this week — which would have given senators no opportunity to solicit town hall input on the bill before the vote — but announced Tuesday that it would be delayed.

By choosing not to meet with constituents, Republican senators could be blunting the efforts of liberal activists, who have targeted previous meetings in an attempt to show public displeasure over Republicans’ health care efforts.

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of the number of town halls congressional Republicans have held:

At the beginning of 2017, Speaker Paul Ryan took about one month to advance the American Health Care Act in the House. As he did so, Republican House members went back to their districts for town halls and were screamed at, berated, questioned, and denounced with shouts of, “Shame!” The town halls were vivid displays of the ferocity of opposition to the health care bill in some parts of the country — and helped sink Ryan’s first attempt to pass it in March.

Senate Republicans have largely avoided that hot water — by avoiding public meetings in general. Of the 52 Republicans in the Senate, 34 have not held a single town hall this year.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information about town halls based on data from the Town Hall Project. Those numbers have been updated.