Republican lawmakers held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss protective measures and emergency exit strategies to safeguard them from growing violence and protests from progressives over their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
According to Politico, Rep. David Reichert (R-WA), a former county sheriff, presented lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place. These included such things as an exit strategy at town halls, backdoor exits in congressional offices, local police monitoring town halls, and replacing glass office doors with heavy doors and deadbolts.
“It is toxic out there right now,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) reportedly said. “Even some of the guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have, have never seen it to this level.” Walker reportedly reiterated the importance of honoring the First Amendment rights granted to all citizens, remaining engaged and being “nice,” but he warned the Republicans who gathered to “watch your back. And two, be receptive.”
According to Politico, Walker later added, “For those of us who have children in grade school and that kind of thing, there’s a factor in all of this, saying: How far will the progressive movement go to try to intimidate us?”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was reportedly also present at Saturday’s meeting and expressed hope that demonstrations remain civilized. “Peaceful protests are something we honor in this country,” he said, according to Politico. “I just hope people keep it peaceful.”
On Saturday, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) was escorted out of a town hall meeting in Roseville. He told the Los Angeles Times an “anarchist” group caused security concerns and the crowd turned angry against him.
However, some Democrats have reportedly downplayed and even dismissed violence targeting Republicans. “I think what you’re seeing is Republicans trying to use security to try to hide themselves from their constituents because they have no plan for a replacement and very little support from Donald Trump,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) told Politico. “They’re going to use so-called security to keep people away.”
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