Heated debate on health care, spending at Huizenga’s town hall

US Rep. Bill Huizenga, Grand Haven, town hall meeting
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga at a town hall meeting in Grand Haven on March 6, 2017.


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — It was standing room only Monday evening at a town hall meeting in Grand Haven hosted by U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga.

The auditorium at Lakeshore Middle School Monday, which is built to seat 900, was packed, with people standing in the aisles. The crowd was heated, booing or giving standing ovations depending on how they felt about the various points of view expressed.

US Rep. Bill Huizenga, town hall meeting, Grand Haven
A packed house for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga’s town hall meeting in Grand Haven on March 6, 2017.

A major point of contention was education. One retired public school teacher questioned Huizenga, a Republican from Zeeland, about whether he supported school vouchers.

“Education needs to be for all students,” she said. “It’s extremely disturbing that the GOP is putting party before country by not speaking out.”

Huizenga said he did not support school vouchers.

“I don’t support the bill, haven’t co-sponsored the bill,” he said. “I do believe in educational choice. I believe that charter schools are a part of this. My kids happen to go to a private school.”

As expected, the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — was another heated topic. House Republicans on Monday rolled out their bill to replace the measure. At the meeting, one doctor asked Huizenga if he felt health care was a right.

“I don’t believe that it is a constitutional right,” Huizenga replied.

Another question revolved around how the country was going to dig itself out of debt when Huizenga supports an increased defense budget, which President Donald Trump has put forth.

“If the United States can’t afford to protect the environment, take care of the health of its citizens, build bridges or teach its children anymore, then what exactly is it defending with its military budget,” one woman asked.

Huizenga said defending the country is a constitutional responsibility.

He also assured the crowd that he is adamantly opposed to cutting funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which a report last week suggested was on the Trump administration’s chopping block.

The debate, which started at 7 p.m., went past its scheduled 9 p.m. end time. Many stayed after to talk with the congressman on stage. While it was contentious, some expressed gratitude toward Huizenga for holding the event.

Monday’s meeting was is Huizenga’s second in-person town hall as part of his listening tour. In February, more than 300 people attended his public forum in Baldwin.

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Rep. Bill Huizenga