Authorities ‘strongly encourage’ House members to review security plans before week of town halls
House lawmakers are being told by law enforcement to maintain “enhanced security awareness” as they return to their home districts for a week — following several raucous town hall meetings in which congressional Republicans were ripped over plans to dismantle ObamaCare and other GOP initiatives.
The advisory issued Thursday by the House Sergeant at Arms “strongly encouraged” the chamber’s roughly 435 members to review security protocols as they leave Capitol Hill for a “District Work Period,” which historically includes town hall-style events and other interactions with constituents.
“This is important if your district office becomes a potential demonstration site,” the advisory reads. “If your home address and phone number are publicly available, you should remain particularly alert regarding your surroundings.”
On Saturday, GOP Rep. Tom Reed hosted another town hall event in his upstate New York district in which attendees gave him rough time, demanding answers about his purported desire to shutter the Environmental Protection Agency and about “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
The situation follows several town hall events hosted by House Republicans over the past several weeks in which some attendees shouted and demanded answers to a range of concerns about their agenda and that of Republican President Trump — particularly whether millions of Americans will lose health insurance if ObamaCare is indeed dismantled.
GOP Rep. Tom McClintock received a police escort from a recent town hall event in his eastern California district and has two more scheduled for next week.
Some of the disruption is an organized effort by critics of Trump and congressional Republicans’ agenda. And McClintock and others have suggested at least some of the disruptors are paid agitators.
A couple of weeks ago, at the House Democrats’ retreat in Baltimore, New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone downplayed the attendees behavior, saying he faced raucous town hall crowds of 3,000 during the Tea Party movement.
“I never felt threatened,” he told Fox News. “They were calling us all kinds of names. I think (Republicans) are a little more thin-skinned than we were.”
The Sergeant at Arms advisory also urges House lawmakers to coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies if they hold town hall meetings and to provide a copy of their schedule “for situational awareness.”
Whether groups have specific plans to protest at Republican lawmakers’ district offices is unclear.
But the fiscally conservative group FreedomWorks told Fox News earlier this week that it intends to drive busloads of people to congressional offices across the country to pressure conservative lawmakers to fulfill campaign promises on tax and regulatory reform and on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.