Rep. Tom Reed: raucous town hall meetings won't keep him from holding more of them

Feb 20, 2017
Originally published on February 19, 2017 11:38 pm

A local Congressman got an earful, and then some, when he held four town hall meetings in Western New York and the Southern Tier on Saturday.

The sessions were raucous at times with protesters making their displeasure known loudly, particularly on the issue of the planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Reed supports the initiative of President Trump and Congressional Republicans to get rid of the ACA and replace it with something else.  He told WXXI News on Sunday that despite town hall meetings that got quite heated on Saturday, he doesn’t regret holding them.

“Obviously there’s a lot of passion out there, there’s a lot of disagreement on where the country is going, but that’s why we need to do these town halls, you have to listen to people to try to bring people together because at the end of the day, this is our country, and we’re all American citizens." Reed was at the WXXI studios on Sunday to do satellite interviews for MSNBC and FOX News.

Reed says he was looking for some common ground and feels that some of those attending the sessions were open to what he had to say.

“Once we started to articulate things like what we’re going to do with Medicaid, what we’re going to do with health savings accounts and tax credits with folks, I think it alleviated some concerns from a lot of people who think we’re just going to pull the rug out, and that’s the end of the conversation.”

There were also people at the town hall meetings concerned about whatever alternative health care plans are being discussed in Washington right now and what they might mean for seniors and those on low-income, particularly if some of the health care system were privatized.

NPR reported that questions about President Trump’s positions on other issues, including questions raised about Trump’s dealings with Russia also riled up the crowd at some of the town halls.

Reed told WXXI News that he has always held town hall sessions and will continue to hold them. That’s a view that’s different from some of his upstate Congressional colleagues, including Chris Collins and John Katko who question whether town hall meetings are productive, particularly when they include a lot of shouting and heckling.

Reed says each member of Congress must decide on his or her own whether they are valuable, but for him, he says he says it’s important to continue to gather comments from his constituents and remain accountable to the voters.

Copyright 2017 WXXI-AM. To see more, visit WXXI-AM.