Frustrated by the lack of opportunity to speak face to face with their senator, hundreds brought a town hall meeting to Republican Roy Blunt Saturday as the GOP’s annual Lincoln Days event kicked off in Springfield.
The “street town hall,” during which protestors lined John Q. Hammons Parkway for roughly two hours holding signs and chanting, was organized by Crystal Brigman Mahaney with Missouri Healthcare for All.
In a news release, the organization said about 300 people attended. But Sen. Blunt, who was said to be invited to the event, did not.
“Senator Blunt was a seeming no-show, continuing to buck the trend of his colleagues, members of Congress who are holding public town halls across the country to hear their constituents’ concerns,” the release stated.
Members of Congress conclude a week-long recess when they return to Washington Monday. During this time, many have conducted town halls in their home districts. At those hosted by Republican office holders, some have been confronted by angry constituents.
Protestors on Saturday in part wanted to express their concerns over the fate of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Signs read "Protect our Healthcare," while others like "Where's Roy?" questioned the availability of their senator.
According to a participant, Blunt did arrive around 8:15 am at the University Plaza Hotel, where Lincoln Days was being held.
“We did politely approach him, asked him if we could talk or hold town halls. He did not stop or answer our questions. I’m disappointed,” said Beth Pross, who represents Ozark Action Coalition in Phelps County.
Reached on Thursday about whether Blunt would attend the “street town hall,” a spokesman with the senator’s office emailed the following statement to KSMU:
“This week is the Congressional State Work Period. The Senate is back in session next week. The senator has been traveling out of the country this week, and will home in Springfield over the weekend and will be at Lincoln Days. As always, we will announce any of our upcoming public events in advance. The next Congressional State Work Period is in April. We don’t have that schedule worked out/finalized yet,” said Brian Hart, a Blunt spokesman.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Blunt had been in Europe. Meanwhile, Congressman Billy Long was in Japan, while Sen. Claire McCaskill was touring the U.S.-Mexico border. None held town halls in the Springfield area over the week.
St. Louis Public Radio reported that McCaskill held a listening session on Friday in Hillsboro. The station heard from 10 members of Congress that represent the St. Louis area to learn of their town hall plans, if any.