Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney spoke at a health care town hall Monday night in a neighboring district. Hundreds packed a room in Kingston to hear from Maloney, who launched an Adopt a District challenge asking House representatives to step into Republican districts to explain the House bill to repeal Obamacare.
Congressman Maloney took the mic at the Senate Garage to prolonged cheers and applause.
“I’m Representative Sean Patrick Maloney. Where the heck is your congressman?” Maloney said.
Maloney, who represents the 18th District, was in Republican Congressman John Faso’s 19th District to answer questions about how the American Health Care Act narrowly passed by the House May 4th would affect them.
At one point, Maloney asked if the audience wanted to have some fun.
“This is called grassroots organizing,” Maloney said. “Everybody take out your phone, take out your phone.”
He then instructed them to go onto Twitter.
“And you’re going to tweet it @JohnFasoNY, and you’re going to say, ‘Missing you in Kingston, how’s the fundraiser?’” said Maloney. “Do it right now, all of you, every one of you.”
Maloney said Faso was in Albany attending the fundraiser. And he believes word about the town hall’s message will reach Faso.
“Well, I’m told that #AdoptaDistrict is trending on Twitter tonight so I have a feeling he’s going to hear about it loud and clear.” Maloney said.
Earlier in the day, Faso spoke to constituents at the New York Statewide Senior Action Council’s spring meeting at the Kingston library. In general, Faso has said he prefers smaller gatherings with constituents that allow for civil discourse instead of open, public town halls. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein embraces Adopt a District.
“I hope what we’re seeing here is an extraordinary wakeup call for him because, to be quite frank with you, to think that they would move forward on this kind of a bill with no clear understanding of what the costs are or what the true impact is across this country. Again, the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, hadn’t even seen it. It’s wildly irresponsible. “And as my grandmother would have said, ‘How could you?’”
The Democratic Hein ruled out a run for congress last time around, but how about in 2018?
“I love what I do here in Ulster County,” Hein replied.
In February, Catskill resident Andrea Mitchell attended a rally in Kinderhook outside Faso’s home, and got a hug from the congressman after she told him her concern about losing health insurance given her pre-existing conditions. Mitchell, who appeared on MSNBC last week and spoke during Maloney’s adopted town hall, says she appreciated Maloney adopting her district and may reach out to Faso in the coming days.
“The fact that he won’t show up and defend this vote is really hurtful. I would like an explanation and I know everyone in this room would like an explanation on how he could justify both promising to protect us and voting yes on this new bill,” says Mitchell.
Faso has said pre- existing conditions and Guaranteed Issue are protected in the bill, already law in New York. Dustin Reidy is an organizer of IndivisibleNY19, which hosted the town hall.
“Being able to have someone in Congress who’s saying, I’m fighting for you, and actually just listening to people’s stories and having a sympathetic ear and giving folks a platform to be heard I think is an important thing for the folks in this room tonight to have that,” Reidy says.
Keith Kanaga from Ghent, in Columbia County, turned out to hear Maloney.
“I thought he was dynamite. I thought he was really fantastic,” says Kanaga. I was ready to ask him is it possible under our Constitution to have one representative for two districts, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him.”
Stone Ridge resident Maggie Colan is worried about insurance covering her needs.
“He didn’t necessarily have specific answers for everybody, but he made me feel better,” Colan says. “He made me realize there are politicians out there that, even though this passed, still care about us because I do, I feel abandoned. I feel abandoned by my government.”
Faso’s spokeswoman called the town hall a purely partisan political rally. Here’s Maloney.
“For the people like John Faso who say, oh, this is some stunt, I wish they could come here and see the sincerity of the people here who are telling their stories, who are talking about serious health issues in their own lives and who are scared to death about what the Republicans are doing,” Maloney says. “This isn’t some game. This is people’s health care.”
Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee Tuesday launched a digital ad campaign in the 19th congressional district entitled “Promise Made, Promise Kept.” The ad thanks Republicans for passing the American Health Care Act and says that Obamacare is in a death spiral.