After months of negotiations, Republicans finally passed an Obamacare repeal bill through the House of Representatives on Thursday. But they don't seem terribly eager to talk about it — in addition to declining interview requests to discuss the bill, some Republicans are refusing to attend town halls as well, so strong is the public backlash against the bill. In response, a House Democrat says he'll hold town halls for Republicans who won't.
"I think every Republican who voted for this thing ought to have to stand in front of their voters and explain it," New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Saturday. "And if it takes a Democrat to go in and do it for them for a while, I'll explain what's in this bill."
In a separate tweet, Maloney said that he's been getting phone calls from Republican Rep. John Faso's constituents, and asked Faso to "turn your phones on" so that would stop happening. Faso, like Mahoney, represents New York (Faso's 19th district is just north of Maloney's 18th), but after voting for the American Health Care Act, he refused to attend a town hall meeting that's being held on Monday. Mahoney says he will be at the forum.
"If this guy won't stand up and explain to you, and the people he represents — my neighbors, in the Hudson Valley — well, I'm gonna do it," Maloney said of Faso.
This is only the latest example of House Republicans avoiding scrutiny over the health care bill they just voted for. On Saturday, MSNBC host Joy Reid said that her producers invited all 217 Republicans who voted for the legislation to come onto her morning show for an interview, but that every one of them declined. In the moments after the legislation passed, several lawmakers ignored reporters who asked whether they'd read the bill in its entirety before voting on it.
Even before the AHCA passed, Republicans were avoiding town hall meetings where they might be questioned about it. In one especially illustrative example, a Republican congressman exited through the back door of a meeting with constituents before it was over, leaving throngs of constituents waiting at the front entrance.
It isn't a surprise that Republicans don't want to talk about the AHCA. The legislation is broadly hated by the American public: A mere 17 percent of people support the bill, according to a Quinnipiac poll, while the legislation that it's replacing — Obamacare — enjoys support from the majority of Americans. It makes sense that Republicans don't want to discuss the AHCA, because it's an incredibly disliked bill. The fact that they passed it despite its massive unpopularity, though, makes a lot less sense.