DUBUQUE — U.S. Rep. Rod Blum announced Wednesday he will host a series of four town halls in his eastern Iowa district May 8-11 during the congressional recess, including one in the Cedar Valley area of Waterloo-Cedar Falls.
Others will be in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Marshalltown. Venues, times and details have yet to be announced.
“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 planned town halls or other meetings with constituents.
Blum, a Dubuque businessman who represents Iowa's 1st Congressional District, currently has two events listed on his public schedule: a veterans fair on April 20 in Waterloo and a seniors fair on April 21 in Cedar Rapids. He doesn’t have any town halls listed.
Advocates and critics have been rallying to urge Blum to hold a town hall since nearly the outset of his second term, including a March 9 rally in Cedar Falls over health care. The Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors, all Democrats, also voted 3-2 in March to host meetings for the district’s congressional delegation.
Blum said last week when The Courier asked about the potential for town halls during this recess that he’s been “kind of busy” in Washington, D.C., with about six weeks straight in the nation’s capital to work 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 following a meeting with Republican Women of Black Hawk County.
He said the protests for town halls have largely been by Democratic and left-leaning groups.
“That 'Indivisible,' I get that,” Blum said last week. "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."
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 cut-out 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,” Blum said. "They did it to Joni (Ernst). They did it to Senator 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."
Town halls held this year by Republican U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, since President Donald Trump took office, have been described as “raucous,” as attendees asked pointed questions ranging from the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act to holding the new president more accountable.
Blum stressed when he is “back in America,” meaning his northeast Iowa congressional district rather than Washington, D.C., he regularly meets with constituents, even if they are not town halls. He said if people are interested in talking, they can always contact his district offices.
Blum previously held numerous meetings around his district on specific issues, such as those pertaining veterans and workforce development. He has not held a town hall-style event in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area since his election.