SLIDELL - The heat is rising on Congressman Steve Scalise as some voters are ramping up their call for the House Majority Whip to answer to his constituents: face-to-face.
The demands are intensifying in light of the recent repeal of Obamacare and the firing of the FBI's director.
On Wednesday, the list of national concerns presented in an impromptu, round-table discussion with concerned voters and a staff member from Scalise's office was plentiful.
"We need access to healthcare, and yes, people do die if they don't have access to healthcare, a lot of the time," said one woman.
Another said, "You have to be a coward to stand behind a religion that says 'Love one another as I have loved you,' and then discuss building a wall."
"It seems clear that Mr. Trump's intention is to replace Mr. Comey who is giving him trouble with a lap dog," said a Slidell resident.
They're all issues the constituents say they should be able to take up with their elected officials in person.
"Giving us edicts from above is not communication," said a St. Tammany resident.
The cry for more face-to-face interaction with members of Congress has grown across the country in recent months, including a local protest in March targeting Sen. John Kennedy. Many say they want direct answers for decisions made in Washington D.C., but aren't given the chance. Those frustrations boiled over in a Metairie town hall meeting in February with Sen. Bill Cassidy.
In a recent interview with Eric Paulsen on the Eyewitness Morning News, Scalise said he does annual town hall meetings in every parish, but he feels new telephone town halls have made him even more available for personal Q&A's.
"In the convenience of their home, we've found they'd much rather we come to them as opposed to them having to come to some event," he said then. Wednesday, Scalise's Office said in a statement, "Just last Friday, Congressman Scalise took questions from folks across his district in a telephone town hall that reached nearly 34,000 of his constituents, far more than he would be able to reach otherwise. In fact, the Congressman offered a poll of his constituents during a recent telephone town hall and found that nearly 70% of them preferred the convenience of participating in a town hall from their homes, rather than facing long lines and crowds at a traditional town hall."
Area republicans say they have no problems with access or representation.
"Often times, these days, people want to say, 'My Congressman isn't listening to me,' when they really mean, 'My Congressman isn't voting the way I want them to.' That's just not the same thing," said St. Tammany Republican Party Executive Committee Member-at-Large.
While the concerned voters got a listening ear this day, they're not giving up on getting an audience with Scalise in the near future.
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