Resistance Report: Republicans spar with angry constituents, as Lady Liberty wears a new sash

Garance Franke-Ruta
Senior Politics Editor
Activists hung a banner saying “REFUGEES WELCOME” on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York on Feb. 21. (Photo: Alt Lady Liberty via Twitter)

Tuesday, Feb. 21, was a big day for Resistance Recess activists, as members of Congress held town halls across the country and got yelled at by constituents and activists (and activist constituents). So many members of Congress have been yelled at on camera so far this year, in fact, that the Washington Post has launched a digital tool in which you plug in a lawmaker’s name and up pops video of the politician getting yelled at. More about the town halls in a bit, but first, a few words about actions in New York harbor and elsewhere:

LOVELY LADY LIBERTY. A group of activists tweeting under the account @AltStatLiberty — named after the “rogue” or “alt” federal government accounts purportedly written by bureaucrats about what’s really happening at their agencies — unfurled a banner reading “REFUGEES WELCOME” at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The action was intended to serve as a reminder of America’s historic posture of welcome toward immigrants — a posture that has waxed and waned, along with the proportion of immigrants in the nation — as well as a sharp echo of the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict refugee admissions to the U.S. Because the banner of welcome was unwelcome, it was, inevitably, taken down.

“The banner was put up by a few individuals who believe that America is at its best when we uphold the values behind the Statue of Liberty expressed by the banner,” the group told Yahoo News in an email. They declined to say more about their identities.

THE RESISTANCE BOOK CLUB. The Daily Action project founded by writer Laura Moser shortly after the election has launched a book club. Coming up first in a March 13 digital meet-and-greet: Journalist and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker David France’s history of the AIDS activist movement, “How to Survive a Plague.” The book club will be moderated by New York Times Book Review columnist Ben Moser. Daily Action is a project of the Creative Majority PAC, run by a group of Democratic Party digital strategists, including some of the key figures who helped Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the White House. It has more than 250,000 subscribers, who receive daily text messages urging them to take a daily action on a specific subject  — usually calls to members of Congress.

MICHAEL MOORE’S RESISTANCE IN 10 EASY STEPS. Speaking of daily actions, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore published on Tuesday his 10-step resistance to-do list on Facebook. The guidelines, which draw from the daily routine self-care movement that will be familiar to anyone who does yoga, include items such as:

1. Wake up.
2. Brush teeth.
3. Walk dog (or stare at cat).
4. Make coffee.
5. Call Congress.

Moore previously began outlining these 10 steps from the stage at the Women’s March on Washington. His speech ran long, and actress Ashley Judd cut in before he finished in order to start her own speech.

A WIN FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD. “A federal judge in Texas ruled Tuesday that the state can’t cut off funding for Planned Parenthood over secretly recorded videos taken by anti-abortion activists in 2015, which critics said were misleading and heavily edited,” reports the Associated Press. “‘A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations — these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program,’ U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote … in an order granting a preliminary injunction preventing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from ending Medicaid agreements with Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood supporters confronted GOP congressmen this week at town halls in Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia over their support for blocking federal funds from being used to reimburse the organization for nonabortion health care visits by individuals using public insurance, such as Medicaid. Federal funding for abortion has been prohibited by law since 1976, three years after the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized it across the country.

LOSERS GO HOME. “Nearly 1,000 people jeered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he drove to a speech Tuesday where he told local business leaders that ‘winners make policy and the losers go home,'” reports the Associated Press. A woman at the speech in Lawrenceburg, Ky., rebuked him for the decline in coal jobs and care for those, including veterans, who got sick while working them. If he could answer her questions, she said, she’d “sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren.”


ON THE TOWN. In Arkansas, GOP Rep. Steve Womack drew more than 150 to a “Coffee with Congressman Womack” event in West Fork that would normally draw about 15, reports the Arkansas Times. The Ozark Indivisible group helped organize the surge in attendees.


Womack drew jeers when, after being asked about investigating Trump’s possible ties to Russia, he said, “You guys just want to investigate everybody.”


THE END OF IOWA NICE? Both U.S. senators from Iowa faced off against angry constituents Tuesday. Sen. Chuck Grassley, addressing voters in Iowa Falls, was urged, “Don’t repeal Obamacare. Improve it, for God’s sake.”


An Afghan immigrant implored Grassley for help in the face of Trump’s immigration ban. “I am a person from a Muslim country, and I am a Muslim — who’s going to save me here?” he asked, according to video shot by KCCI reporter Hannah Hilyard. “Who is going to stand behind me?”



A forum held by Sen. Joni Ernst in Maquoketa, Iowa, was packed.


She was greeted by shouts of “Your last term!”


Ernst was pressed on Obamacare and Russian interference in the U.S. election at the forum.


The crowd was so rowdy she ended her forum early.


They chanted “Shame on you!” as she left.


EVEN NEBRASKA. Members of the liberal group Indivisible Lincoln of Lincoln, Neb., protested outside a closed event held by GOP Sen. Deb Fischer to show their opposition to Trump’s immigration and wall-building policies.



The group called on her to hold an open town hall meeting, chanting as her meeting wrapped, “Do your job!” and “Meet with us!”


The Omaha World-Herald reports that “none of Nebraska’s congressional representatives had scheduled town hall meetings, open to the general public, during this week’s recess.”

UP IN BRAT’S GRILL. Virginia Republican Rep. David Brat, who famously ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, held a town hall in the small town of Blackstone, Va. Reports the Washington Post: “For a little more than an hour, Brat was heckled nonstop as he fielded questions on health care, President Trump’s policies and the border wall. His answers seemed to antagonize most in the crowd of 150, who yelled back at him, at points drowning him out and prompting a few of his supporters to leave early in disgust.”



EVERYWHERE YOU GO, THERE THEY ARE. Also drawing fire over the course of the day were Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee and Buddy Carter in Georgia.

So too did Sen. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana:



The day-long commotion was such that President Trump tweeted about it.


The Town Hall Project, which has been collecting information on who is holding town halls and when, decided to take it as a compliment.


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