An Iowa Republican stormed out of a local TV interview Monday after a simple question on campaign donations — then faced a raucous town-hall grilling on his support for the GOP health bill.
Rep. Rod Blum kicked off his day of mishaps sitting down with KCRG-TV9’s Josh Scheinblum at the Dubuque Dream Center — a youth center the congressman had apparently selected to hold the interview — for roughly two minutes.
A playful group of African-American children huddled in the background at the congressman’s insistence, according to the TV station.
Scheinblum, noting Blum’s town hall later that day marked his first since January, asked him to explain the peculiar decision to pre-screen attendees for IDs at the door.
“We don’t want people from outside of the First District,” Blum replied. “I don’t represent them. They should go talk to their representatives at their town hall meetings.”
The reporter pressed on: “I think some would make the case that … the decisions that you make impact all Iowans, so shouldn’t all Iowans have a voice at the table or at least have the option to?”
“I don’t represent all Iowans,” Blum smiled. “I represent the First District of Iowa. That’d be like saying, ‘Shouldn’t I be able to — even though I live in Dubuque — go vote in Iowa City during the election because I’d like to go vote in that district instead.’”
It was Scheinblum’s follow-up — “Would you still take donations from a Republican in Iowa City?” — that made Blum stand up and rip off his lapel mic.
“This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous. He’s going to sit here and just badger me,” the congressman griped. “Unbelievable.”
The kids filed out behind Blum, with some still cheesing and romping around as they exited.
That night, Blum — among just 14 out of 217 House Republicans holding a town hall after voting last week for the American Health Care Act — faced boos and yells at Dubuque Senior High School even despite the ID vetting.
“You voted for this bill in a rush. There were no committee hearings. This is my life,” one woman said, according to HuffPost. “The Congressional Budget Office didn’t score this bill … what was the rush?”
“I have always said the process was bad,” the congressman replied. “It was rushed. There should have been hearings … The bill is better than what we have (under Obamacare). It’s heading in the right direction.”
Another constituent reportedly asked, “If you can’t answer the tough questions of a reporter, why should we trust you?”
Blum’s town hall came four days after House Republicans narrowly passed a much-awaited bill — which a handful of lawmakers later admitted not actually reading — to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The President Trump-backed health plan would slash $880 billion from Medicaid over the next decade, and the Congressional Budget Office earlier estimated it would render 24 million Americans uninsured — though Republicans declined to wait for a CBO score of the final version.