Rep. Jackson Lee Ignores Constituent At Health-Care Forum
Updated, 1:57 p.m.
Angry protesters hijacking health-care town hall forums across the country have dominated headlines in recent days. But the tables were turned in Houston this week when a congresswoman, not a constituent, was the one who breached etiquette.
When a constituent stood up and posed a question to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on Tuesday, the congresswoman wasn't exactly listening. (The incident occurs at about 4 minutes, 30 seconds into the video above.)
The constituent, identified as Tracy Miller on a video posted on YouTube, was well into her question about health-care reform when she realized Jackson Lee was talking on her cell phone.
"She's not even listening," someone in the room shouted.
Another voice in the crowd is heard on tape saying, "Seriously? Really, I mean, come on. Dude."
Indeed, the congresswoman is seen chatting on her cell phone as Miller, who said she is a cancer survivor, calmly continues to ask her question. The congresswoman soon hung up, put her cell phone away and answered the question.
But Republicans aren't going to let Jackson Lee forget her faux pas in ignoring one of her own constituents. The video, which includes text representative of a pro-conservative slant, was quickly posted on YouTube and circulated by eager GOP aides on Capitol Hill.
Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which hopes to regain House seats from Democrats in 2010, said the video of Jackson Lee shows how out of touch Democrats are with their constituents when it comes to the sensitive topic of health care.
"Sheila Jackson Lee might want to consider calling her shrink since she is apparently disconnected from reality," Spain cracked in an e-mail to the Sleuth.
Jackson Lee represents a solidly Democratic district. She is far from a real target for Republicans in next year's mid-term elections. But Spain said her actions at the town hall meeting are emblematic of how "dismissive" of their constituents Democrats are coming across on health care.
Spain pointed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent assertion that the raucous protesters who have been riling health care town forums across the country are "un-American." And he singled out Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), who recently referred to disruptive town hall protesters as "political terrorists."
"Some members might call them 'constituents,'" Spain added.
UPDATE: In a telephone interview with the Sleuth this afternoon, Jackson Lee explained she was on her cell phone during Tuesday's town hall meeting because she had called the House health care hotline seeking answers to a number of questions about particular elements of the health care bill moving through Congress.
"I had been on the cell phone getting a series of questions answered," Jackson Lee said. "I don't know why [Republicans think] it's so challenging. I happen to be able to think, listen and maybe even talk at the same time."
The health care hotline, also known as the war room, was established by House Democratic leaders to assist lawmakers with questions about the legislation. Jackson Lee said her office has "been bombarded" with phone calls about her stance on health care, especially since the video of her cell phone moment has "obviously become YouTube popular."
She expects plenty of protesters to show up to her next town hall meeting, scheduled for tonight, one of about a dozen she's doing over the next few weeks. "We will try to be as kind to them as they are unkind to us," she said.
Posted by: Lamentations | August 12, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lostinthemiddle | August 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kmday | August 12, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rlj1 | August 13, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 13, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RealTexan1 | August 13, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: grannymiller | August 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: donwayne69 | August 13, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: zendrell | August 13, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SouthernLiberal | August 13, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: menopausequeen | August 13, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kmday | August 13, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kmday | August 13, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: inowat | August 14, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rlhannah | August 14, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: IQ168 | August 14, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nlb1954 | August 15, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dennissuper | August 17, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mathewcarson1975 | August 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.