POLITICS

Reverse Tea Party? Republican officials facing more protests across country

Alicia Acuna has the latest

 

Washington Republicans this weekend faced more protests at public events -- backlash that appears to be growing against President Trump and the GOP-led Congress for trying to dismantle ObamaCare and against other parts of their agenda.

On Saturday, for the second week in a row, Florida GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis reportedly faced about a hundred people at a town hall meeting upset about Republican plans to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, without a solid alternative.

The episodes -- like those faced by other House Republicans and by recently confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos -- appear similar to those staged by the Tea Party movement in 2009. Members’ grassroots opposition to the increasing size of government under then-President Obama led to the 2010 wave election in which Republicans seized control of the House.

DeVos, a supporter of vouchers and other alternatives to pubic education, was temporarily blocked Friday when trying to enter a District of Columbia public school.

“Go home,” shouted a man holding a “Black Lives Matters" sign. “Shame, shame, shame.”

The concerns raised Saturday in Bilirakis’ conservative Gulf Coast district were similar to those Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz faced a day earlier.

Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight committee, was met by frequent, deafening boos at a town hall event in which constituents asked a range of questions including ones on environmental and energy policies and whether he would hold Trump, a fellow Republican accountable.

‘‘Hold on,’’ Chaffetz, repeatedly said. “Give me a second.”

‘‘My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president,’’ he also said.

House Democrats earlier this week made clear their plans this year to attack Republicans on vows to end ObamaCare, which could leave a project 22 million Americans without insurance.

"We're going to keep stoking the fires," New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone told Fox News on Wednesday in Baltimore, at the caucus’s annual retreat.

He made clear that Democrats, in the GOP-controlled Congress, are not encouraging voters to disrupt Republican town halls, saying that is "not actually allowed."  

However, others appear ready to continue to disrupt GOP events, while distancing themselves from the Tea Party movement led by fiscal conservatives.

One such group, or movement, is “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Stopping the Trump Agenda,” started by former congressional staffers who say they are “revealing the best practices for making Congress listen.”

The group says its guide started as a tweeted Google document that has now been downloaded more than a million times.

Group organizers also say their funding comes from crowd sourcing and that they are still developing a long-term strategy.

Co-founder Ezra Levin acknowledge Saturday on CNN that the group is indeed similar to the Tea Party movement because it uses “the same basic, Civics 101 tactics” of going to town hall-style events and making phone calls.

However, he said his group doesn’t espouse the Tea Party’s 19th Century ideology.

Last weekend, California GOP Rep. Tom McClintock had to be escorted by police from a town hall event as protesters upset about potentially losing their insurance if ObamaCare is dismantled shouted, "Shame on you!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.