Congressman Jim Bridenstine was in Tulsa on Tuesday night, hosting a town hall meeting. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine’s town hall meeting quickly got heated Tuesday evening, at times his answers interrupted by loud boos, arguments and chants.

“Even Democrats acknowledge that Obamacare is failing and that’s not even a dispute,” Bridenstine said.

Many people booed at the statement or yelled “It’s not.” The question about ensuring adequate health care for Oklahomans was the first question of the roughly hour-and-a-half Q-&-A session and received one of the loudest responses.

“Let me say that again, Obamacare is failing and that’s not in dispute,” Bridenstine repeated.

Not everyone disagreed with Bridenstine. Many in the crowd then cheered or held up green cards, signaling they agreed with his answer.

Bridenstine’s town hall at the Mabee Center at the Oral Roberts University Campus drew hundreds of people.

The town hall came as Congress began its two-week recess Monday. Rep. Markwayne Mullin held four town halls in rural Oklahoma towns Tuesday, and Sen. James Lankford (R) is hosting a slew of intimate meetings with constituents in the coming weeks.

Mullin canceled a town hall meeting Tuesday night citing safety concerns and an “escalation of protests.”

Lankford’s eight town hall-style meetings will take place in small venues and are limited to only 50 people who must sign up in advance (all spots are full). The senator has received criticism through social media for not making the meetings open to the public.

The public was engaged – yelling, protesting, cheering and standing. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

Across the nation, Republicans are meeting with their communities to discuss issues such as health care and tax reform and to hear voters voice their concerns or grievances.

In March, House leaders had to pull their failed health-care bill — which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act — because they lacked the votes to pass it.

“Here’s the reality … There is now a single health insurance provider in the state of Oklahoma,” Bridenstine said.

He noted insurance premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing.

“The health-insurance market is not working,” he said.

When his answers were met with boos or yelling, Bridenstine reminded the crowd “the First Amendment is the right to free speech, but it’s also the right to hear.”

Another question involved defunding Planned Parenthood and ensuring the services it offers are replaced. It noted the clinic offers services other than abortions, such as contraception and cancer screenings.

Bridenstine said there are thousands of alternative clinics in the state that serve women. He said he would support taking Planned Parenthood funds and using them for other federally qualified health centers “because they don’t do abortions.”

“Let me put in another way — they don’t kill the unborn,” he said.

“They’re murderers,” one woman in the crowd chanted.

Several people in attendance Tuesday were sporting pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts and pins. They held up signs reading “Yes” when they agreed with statement and “No” when they didn’t.

After the town hall, Darci McFarland, Planned Parenthood special events coordinator of Great Plains based in Tulsa, said she believes it’s important people keep in mind that many other health centers don’t provide the same type of services as Planned Parenthood.

“Other places are coercive places that try to convince women to make decisions based on their particular religious beliefs and not what’s best for the women,” McFarland said.

Attendee Price Hanson said he found the discussion at the town hall meeting interesting and wanted to show Bridenstine support.

“He’s ex-military like I am and he stands for everything that’s right. … He means what he says and he says what he means,” he said.


[Watch the full town hall via NewsOn6]


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