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Sean Spicer ‘needs to go’ says Rep. Mike Coffman at town hall

Author: Adam McCoy - April 13, 2017 - Updated: April 13, 2017

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U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., addresses constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., addresses constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Showing no partisan love for embattled White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, told the sometimes angry, confrontational audience in his first Trump-era town hall meeting Wednesday night that Spicer should step down.

“He needs to go,” Coffman said of Spicer.

The comment arrived like a crescendo in the nearly two-hour long town hall at University of Colorado Medical School in Aurora after a woman asked the final question of the night. She told Coffman her grandparents died at Auschwitz and that she was alarmed over the “anti-semitic people” in Trump’s cabinet.

“They cannot even acknowledge what happened in the Holocaust by calling them Holocaust centers,” she said. “I need to hear from my congressman that these things are unacceptable.”

Coffman said Spicer had made a terrible mistake referring to Spicer’s recent claims that Adolf Hitler had never used chemical weapons, ignoring Holocaust gas chambers and calling concentration camps Holocaust centers.

Juxtaposed against some of his congressional colleagues’ recent town hall meetings, Coffman’s event could be characterized as a quiet, calm affair — especially given the fact the congressman and his narrowly divided district are a favorite targets of the Democratic Party — but the Aurora event wasn’t without its fireworks; they flew early and often, and the theme quickly was driven to the president by a crowd that was clearly anti-Trump.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., addresses constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., addresses constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Early in the public meeting one resident grilled Coffman, drawing raucous applause, on what she called, “Trump’s war on facts, his war on science and the war against climate change.”

“I am personally appalled by the actions on the executive branch to limit the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency,” she said. “As the congressman of a state that has abundance of wildlife, and national parks and resources, what are you going to do to protect the national resources of this state and the climate that we live in?”

Fighting to speak over boos from the audience, Coffman said environmental policy should be coupled with the country’s trade policy. Noting two pieces of legislation he supported which would peer-review all work from the EPA, Coffman said the country has made extraordinary gains in reducing carbon emissions, but the U.S. could do more.

“As we’ve increased the cost of manufacturing in the United States to reduce carbon, which is something we should do, our greatest export has been jobs. To countries that have no environmental standards,” he said. “We are importing goods once made in the United States, that are now made in countries that have no environmental standards.”

The congressman’s meeting was initially marred by its many restrictions. Tickets were required to attend, questions were chosen through a raffle lottery and all signs were banned — Coffman’s website said signs were barred to ensure no one’s views would be obstructed.

In the past, Coffman has opted for one-on-one conversations instead of town hall-style meetings, though he faced hostile hordes at a January town hall in which he left out the back door of a library.

Coffman has taken efforts to distance himself from Trump, a recurring theme Wednesday night — along with health care.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., talks to reporters before addressing constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., talks to reporters before addressing constituents during a town hall meeting in a hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Medical School late Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Aurora, Colo. Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since the election of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Melissa Benjamin, a CNA, said as a constituent and someone who provides care for Coffman’s constituents, she’s uneasy about his support for the American Health Care Act, the Republican Party’s so-far failed plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, which would leave millions without insurance according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.

“I was shocked when I heard you would support Trump, and Trumpcare,” she said “Home care workers like myself would like to know if you would sit down with us in the next two weeks to discuss how this bill is going to hurt us.”

Coffman agreed to meet and responded in regards to Medicaid that he would safeguard existing consumer protections for those with pre-existing conditions, look at fixing the insurance exchanges and address Medicaid expansion.

“Where I disagree with the president is when he says, let’s let these things implode and then people will want to fix them,” Coffman said. “Here’s the problem. That’s not fair to the people who are on them.”

In addressing Medicaid expansion, Coffman said the federal and state government should share a 50/50 obligation for funding by 2020.

Another resident, Rebecca Kim, said she recently went with her father to an eye appointment at the local VA Hospital and was “appalled” by the condition of the facility.

“I was saddened that our veterans do not have better conditions and a more welcoming hospital,” she said.

A new VA facility that is now slated to open in 2018, originally planned for 2014, has been labeled the biggest construction failure in VA history, with costs swelling to $1.7 billion, well above the budgeted $604 million. The Army Corps of Engineers has taken control of the project from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Coffman said, and there is a continued push for criminal charges against “the individual in charge of the construction.”

Coffman said he will advocate for reinstituting of the choice program, allowing veterans who can’t get a VA appointment to seek private health care options and be reimbursed by Veterans Affairs.

 

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.


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