Senator Pat Toomey held a telephone town hall today – less than two hours after he posted about it on Facebook.
Toomey spoke for about an hour, using half the time to take about five or six questions from constituents and half the time to speak at length about a number of issues, including President Donald Trump‘s recent executive orders and cabinet picks as well as complaints from constituents that Toomey has been nearly impossible to reach.
Of course, the first question Toomey took was: “Why do you not answer your phone?”
The senator claimed that there are “two groups” of callers “clogging” his mailboxes – those with “real” concerns who want to get through to him and those who “purposely block” the phone lines. He also pointed people to the contact page of his website.
“We have people answering full-time, all the time,” he said. “We are doing the very best we can to keep up with a high call volume. I appreciate the patience of those of who you have had trouble.”
Other questions concerned the Affordable Care Act, sanctuary cities, Russia, Toomey’s vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, income inequality and gun laws.
One question came from a woman who said she lived in Pottstown and expressed concerns about so-called sanctuary cities like Philadelphia.
“We are getting a lot of the not-so-nice people of the city moving into our town, because it’s nicer here than it is in the city,” she said. “So when they want to do better for their families they do move out our way, but they’re making it so there are gun fights on the weekends in our areas now.”
The same woman praised Toomey for his vote on DeVos and bashed what she said was the “constructed effort … by the left to keep your lines busy so your real voters couldn’t get through to you.”
Toomey responded by informing her of his “Stop Dangerous Cities” bill, which would pull federal funding from cities that don’t fully comply with federal immigration authorities. He also pointed to legislation that would work similarly, like the controversial Senate Bill 10, which the state Senate passed last week.
“I’m going to continue to pursue my legislation because I want us to be as safe as we can be,” he said.
Responding to another caller, Toomey continued to back his stance on the Affordable Care Act, claiming that “there are some people who have chronic expensive health care issues – [Republicans] are going to find a way to make sure those people are taken care of. We fully realize that, and we’re gonna make sure it happens.”
The caller said Toomey and other Republicans have been too “vague” regarding plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“The specifics have yet to be forthcoming,” the caller said. “At some point, we’re gonna need to see something in writing.”
Another question came from a woman who said she’s worked on a state school board for six years. She said she was “disappointed” in Toomey regarding his vote on DeVos, who she said has “no background of education and is willing to tear apart the public school system, which would make it harder for us to run our districts.”
Toomey responded by saying that he supports DeVos because she “gives parents a choice of where to send their kids.”
Despite the fact that Toomey advertised the telephone town hall less than two hours before it started, it still drew about 15,500 listeners, he said. He also claimed that this was the 48th telephone town hall he’s held.
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