Blum plans town halls in May

Republican congressman says opponents want 'opportunity to show up and yell'

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U.S. 1st Dist. Rep. Rod Blum announced Wednesday he will host a series of four town halls in his Eastern Iowa district May 8-11 during a congressional recess.

He did not announce details such as the venues and times for the gatherings, but said they’d be in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Marshalltown and the Cedar Valley area of Waterloo-Cedar Falls.

“I look forward to these town halls and hearing the ideas and concerns of the citizens all across our amazing district,” Blum said in a statement.

Congress currently is on a two-week recess, when several other members have held or plan town halls or other meetings with constituents.

Blum, a Republican businessman from Dubuque, currently has only two events listed on his public schedule — an April 20 veterans fair in Waterloo and an April 21 seniors fair in Cedar Rapids. He also has appeared at other events, including speaking to classes Wednesday at the private Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids.

He doesn’t have any town halls listed on his public schedule.

Advocates and critics have been rallying to urge Blum to hold a public town hall since nearly the outset of his second term. The Black Hawk County supervisors, all Democrats, also voted 3-2 in March to host meetings for the district’s congressional delegation.

When asked last week by The Courier about the potential for town halls this recess, Blum said he has been “kind of busy” in Washington, D.C., working about six weeks straight in the nation’s capital on issues.

“We’ve been really busy. I’ve been in Washington, D.C.; this calendar has been unbelievable. and dealing with the health care issues and some big issues, so everybody needs to take a deep breath,” Blum said last week.

He said protests calling for town halls largely have been by Democratic and left-leaning groups.

“That ‘Indivisible,’ I get that. They’re a Democrat organization. Of course, they’re pushing for this (town hall), because of course, they want to show up and yell, and get on TV, right? We get that. We got the manual. We understand. They’re the ones pushing,” he said last week.

Indivisible of Northeast Iowa has been active on social media this week advocating for Blum to hold a town hall, including tweeting pictures showing a cutout image of Blum at potential locations where he could meet with constituents. The Iowa Democratic Party also plans a rally Wednesday night in Cedar Rapids to urge the congressman to hold a town hall.

“When I talk to real Americans, like I’m talking to today, nobody is asking me about, ‘When’s your next town hall, so we can show up and yell at you?’ It’s the Democrat Party. They did it to Joni (Ernst). They did it to Sen. (Chuck) Grassley. They did it to David Young. They haven’t done it to Congressman Blum yet, and darn it, they want to have their opportunity to show up and yell,” he said.

Town halls held this year by Republican U.S. Sens. Grassley and Ernst have been described as raucous as attendees asked pointed questions ranging from the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act to holding President Donald Trump accountable.

Blum stressed when he is “back in America,” meaning his Northeast Iowa congressional district rather than Washington, he regularly meets with constituents, even if not in public town halls. He said if people are interested in talking, they can always contact his district offices.

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