10:27am

Wed August 24, 2011
It's All Politics

Most U.S. House Members Not Doing Town Hall Meetings

Originally published on Wed August 24, 2011 10:57 am

If your member of Congress is holding town-hall meetings during their summer recess to discuss the great issues of the day with you and their other constituents, he or she is in the minority.

The non-partisan group No Labels, created as a refuge for voters favoring pragmatic, less ideological solutions to the nation's problems, surveyed U.S. House members and found that 60 percent weren't holding town hall meetings this summer.

Republicans were holding more such constituent meetings than Democrats, according to No Label. About two-thirds of Democrats and half of Republicans weren't doing town hall gatherings, the group said.

The group's blog reports:

It's a sad sign of the state of affairs when our elected officials don't have time to meet with their constituents.

The survey doesn't provide any sense of whether this year's percentage is significantly lower than past years though news articles that used the No Label report as a springboard suggest that to be the case.

Town hall meetings got much attention in the summer of 2009 when Tea Party activists and other dissatisfied voters turned up at them to often shout down Democratic lawmakers.

Gail Russell Chaddock of the Christian Science Monitor reports that instead of holding such meetings, lawmakers are using job fairs to meet their constituents. She reports:

The political advantages are two-fold: The events cast members as doing something about the nation's jobs crisis while at the same time shielding them from public confrontations with angry voters. It means town-hall meetings – once a staple of the congressional summer season – are now in decline thanks to the testy summer of 2009, when health-care protests helped launch the tea party movement and provided endless grist for opposition campaign ads.

Bill Lambrecht at stltoday.com which covers St. Louis notes that some lawmakers are using factory visits and telephone teleconferences, both which are easier to manage than town halls, as ways to reach out to constituents:

House members in the St. Louis region as well as Missouri's senators are among those opting for events that bring them in contact with voters in a more controlled fashion than town hall meetings.

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