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Progressive activism takes its toll on congressional Republicans

A Republican congressman complained the other day he's "getting hammered" by progressive activists on health care. The message couldn't have been clearer.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) (C) leaves after a House Republican Conference meeting Sept. 29, 2015 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) (C) leaves after a House Republican Conference meeting Sept. 29, 2015 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
There's all kinds of compelling evidence that progressive activism, spurred by Donald Trump's election, is stiffening Democratic spines on Capitol Hill. At the same time, it's starting to have the opposite effect on their Republican colleagues.House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-Texas), for example, scheduled an event in his district two weeks ago to discuss the Affordable Care Act, and he seemed eager to limit the audience to his allies. The gathering was held at a local Chamber of Commerce headquarters, it wasn't announced to the public, and the congressman's office said the point of the event was to hear from constituents facing "rising costs and loss of coverage and choice" because of "Obamacare."As the Houston Chronicle reported, dozens of "skeptical and at times testy" locals showed up to express their vocal support for the health care reform law.There's a lot of this going around. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) recently snuck out the back of a library in order to steer clear of constituents who wanted to tell him not to take away their insurance. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) faced a similar reaction during a town-hall event in Grand Rapids. TPM had a related report today out of Illinois.

Rep. Peter Roskam's (R-IL) office cancelled a meeting with constituents about Obamacare on Wednesday when a staffer for the congressman learned that a reporter was present, according to the Aurora Beacon-News.Constituent Sandra Alexander told the Beacon-News that she arranged the meeting about the Affordable Care Act with Roskam's staff ahead of time and informed them that she would be bringing along a small group.But staffers cancelled the meeting before it could begin, ostensibly because there were members of the media present.

In Virginia, meanwhile, Politico reports that Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) "stood up constituents over the weekend who attended two townhalls with questions about an Obamacare repeal and the Trump Administration's travel ban."And speaking of Virginia Republicans, the Huffington Post reported this week:

Rep. David Brat (R-Va.) is feeling pressure from women in his district over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act."Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go," Brat said to laughter at a private event on Saturday, according to a video posted to Facebook. "They come up and say, 'When's your next town hall?' And believe me, it's not to give positive input."He asked the audience to mobilize because "we're getting hammered."

A Bloomberg Politics report talked to another House Republican two weeks ago who said his constituents "are freaking out" because they're afraid Congress is poised to take away their health benefits.The message to activists rallying in support of health-care benefits couldn't be much clearer: what you're doing is working.