Holdout Republican Senators Are Being Embraced By Home-State Crowds for Opposing Trumpcare

Others are staying far away.

With the memory of Spring’s rowdy town hall events fresh in their minds, Senate Republicans largely appear to be dodging public events with voters—many of whom are expressing anger over the party’s plans to kill Obamacare—while back home for the current recess. 

Only a handful participated in their local Fourth of July parades, historically friendly ground for lawmakers returning to their home states. The common thread among these lawmakers? Their criticism of their own party’s legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), who has said she would oppose the Senate-generated Better Care Reconciliation Act barring significant amendments, was one of the Republican senators to appear at local festivities, where she was met with appreciation.

“What I’ve been hearing the entire recess is people telling me to be strong, that they have a lot of concerns about the health care bill in the senate, they want me to keep working on it, but they don’t want me to support it in its current form,” Collins said during Tuesday’s parade in Eastport.

“Most people don’t ask ‘for or against,’ ” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another Republican senator who has signaled she may vote “no” on the bill, told the Washington Post during a Fourth of July event in Wrangell. “They just say, ‘Make sure you’re taking care of our interests.’ In fairness for those that do the ‘for or against,’ everybody is pretty much [saying] they don’t think this is good for us.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who in April faced hostile constituents over his position on heath care and Planned Parenthood funding, also made the rare Fourth of July appearance, days after breaking with Republicans by announcing he too did not support the current form of the bill. (The Nevada senator’s seat is considered to be one of the most endangered in the 2018 midterm elections; pressure on Heller grew Thursday, when Democrat Rep. Jacky Rosen officially announced her bid to challenge his Senate seat.) 

Apart from participating in parades, only four Republican senators scheduled town hall events during the recess—Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)—according to the Town Hall Project. So far, they’ve been greeted by protesters. That’s unlikely to change.