After Donald Trump’s inauguration, groups across the country organized to pressure their representatives to resist policies proposed by the president. One popular strategy, has been to attend town hall meetings held by members of Congress and ask questions that cast policies supported by Trump in a critical light. This strategy had previously been deployed by conservatives pushing against policies such as the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration. When representatives have not scheduled meetings, constituents have pressured them to meet publicly. In some cases, constituents have even organized meetings independently of their representative and invited the representative to attend.
The following is a list of town hall style meetings held by Appalachian members of the U.S. House of Representatives since Inauguration Day as compiled from email newsletters, social media posts, official statements and phone conversations with the offices of the representatives. Entering a street address, such as “62 Morell Way, Morgantown, WV” filters the list to the representative for that address.
A telephone icon (☎️) indicates meetings that were held over a phone system rather than in person. An f icon indicates events where constituents could pose questions through Facebook posts. A ✔️ icon indicates representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act and an ❌ icon indicates representatives who voted against the act. The legislation, which was promoted as a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, was a contentious issue at town hall events.
100 Days in Appalachia compiled a list of members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have at least part of their district in one of the counties that make up Appalachia, as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The names of representatives, their contact information and social media accounts were aggregated using the Google Civic Information API. The office of each representative was called in February to build an initial list of recently held and upcoming meetings. Their responses were recorded in a custom database. Staff members of representatives were also asked how constituents could best learn about future public meetings. In those initial calls, the representative’s email newsletter and social media accounts were most frequently listed as the best way for constituents to find out about upcoming meetings. Based on this, the database of meetings was updated based on messages sent to the representatives’ email newsletters as well as tweets from the representative that promoted meetings. Statements by representatives, as collected by ProPublica’s Represent news application were an additional source of information about meetings.
The definition of town hall meeting used by this project is broad. This list includes any event that a representative referred to as a town hall meeting provided that it was open to the public. Events which required pre-registration were included as were events where participation was restricted to residents of the district. Many representatives choose to hold “tele-town hall” meetings in which participants can ask questions using a phone system. Others have begun to use technologies such as Facebook Live to respond to constituents. Such meetings not held in person have been criticized as being less accessible, but are included in this list so readers can compare the types of meetings held be different representatives.
Header photo courtesy Rep. Evan Jenkins via Facebook.