A group of healthcare advocates who disapprove of Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act urged U.S. Dean Heller on Friday to host a town hall during the weeklong President's Day recess to hear his constituents.
The individuals gathered outside a Las Vegas hotel-casino, where they believed the Republican senator would participate in a fundraiser. The rally adds to the pressure that constituents, Democrats and others have been putting on Heller, who some see as one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans running for re-election next year.
"We wanted to urge him to attend a town hall or host a town hall to hear the concerns of his constituents," said Maggie Salas Crespo, a spokeswoman for the Nevada chapter of the national Alliance for Healthcare Security. She said Heller declined an invitation to attend a gathering scheduled for Wednesday in Reno to hear concerns over Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Heller has been under pressure recently from a number of groups. Earlier this month, activists held a vigil outside his Las Vegas office in effort that organizers said was meant to show his embrace of a far-right agenda won't get him re-elected in 2018.
Heller's office said the senator was not at the Las Vegas hotel when the rally took place Friday. His spokesman, Neal Patel, in a statement said Heller has hosted teletown halls from Washington when Congress is in session and has visited all but four Nevada counties this year.
Patel added that Heller has also conducted weekly telephone town halls in which he can reach 5,000 people. "This has been a very successful method of interacting with constituents, and the Senator does not plan to change this," Patel said.
Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act have faced angry pushback at constituent meetings in Utah, Michigan, Tennessee and elsewhere, even in solidly Republican districts. The protests are being amplified by liberal activists modeling their opposition to President Donald Trump on the tea party groups that sprang up to oppose President Barack Obama.
In Utah, Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz last week faced irate constituents chanting "Do your job!" as they pressed the House Oversight Committee chairman to investigate Trump. He struggled to be heard as he faced a litany of sharp questions and screams from a crowd.
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