By DANYEL VANREENEN
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia representatives attended a West Virginia State Society reception in Washington, D.C. last week where they were met by constituent complaints and questions.
During the reception, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., took questions from the audience regarding health care, environmental issues and other concerns. Mooney left the reception after fielding questions about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. When he left, Mooney said one woman tried to grab his arm to stop him, and he later said the protesters were professionally trained.
In response, Tracy Riordan, one of the individuals at the reception, said the only thing she’s trained for is how to take care of her children and be a good spouse.
Sara Thomsen, another reception attendee, said none of the attendees were professionally trained radicals.
“I’m not even sure what that is,” Thomsen said. “We were concerned citizens seeking answers to questions that have been raised by the current administration’s actions and behavior.”
For Riordan and Thomsen, health care and environmental concerns are a few of the main issues they wanted to discuss with Mooney and other representatives. Thomsen said she wants to make sure her children and grandchildren will inherit a healthy world.
Thomsen also knows many West Virginians who will be affected by the proposed health care reform. She’s especially concerned with the new proposals affecting Medicare and Medicaid.
Russell Mokhiber, another constituent at the event, said there were no professional protesters there.
“They were, instead, concerned and active citizens of West Virginia wanting to meet with their elected members of Congress and discuss issues of the day,” Mokhiber said. “Congressman Mooney has refused to meet with his constituents face to face for a public meeting in his district.”
Mooney’s office responded to some of the concerns.
“On March 8, Congressman Mooney participated in the West Virginia State Society reception, which was open to the public and well attended, where he spoke about the issues facing Congress and answered questions from West Virginians in the audience,” Mooney’s office said in a statement. “In addition to that meeting, Congressman Mooney recently held a telephone town hall meeting in the last week of February with 7,000 constituents participating. Telephone town halls allow him to hear input and answer questions from constituents in all 17 counties.”
Riordan and Thomsen still want to see Mooney and other representatives holding more meetings with constituents, however.
“We drove all the way to D.C. for answers,” Thomsen said.
Riordan and Thomsen said they went to D.C. on their own time with their own money to speak with their state representative about issues that are important to them.
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