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Eye On Boise

Wed., April 19, 2017, 6:27 p.m.

Feisty crowd lets Labrador know when it disagrees with him, agrees with questioners…

A woman who repeatedly questioned Rep. Raul Labrador about why he's not pushing for an investigation of President Trump drew extended cheers from the crowd, which also waved sheets of green paper while she spoke to show agreement.  (Betsy Z. Russell)
A woman who repeatedly questioned Rep. Raul Labrador about why he's not pushing for an investigation of President Trump drew extended cheers from the crowd, which also waved sheets of green paper while she spoke to show agreement. (Betsy Z. Russell)

When Rep. Raul Labrador was asked about President Trump not releasing his tax returns, he said, “I have no problem challenging a president of the other party or a president of my party, and I think I’ve shown that in my seven years in Washington, D.C. I have no problem challenging my leadership.” Then, he said, “I don’t think that there’s anything in the law that requires the president to provide his tax returns. There’s nothing in the law.” That was met with a loud boo, and some applause from the crowd at his town-hall meeting in Meridian. “I don’t think there’s anything in the law, and we as a body, our responsibility is to investigate if they have done something that is illegal. I don’t think I can go forward and ask for his tax returns when I have no evidence of any crime.” At that, there was a loud roar mixed with some boos from the crowd, and many waved red sheets of paper to indicate that they disagreed.

People in the crowd also have on occasion raised green sheets of paper to indicate approval, along with their applause and cheers.

Labrador has been asked so far about funding for special education; paid parental leave; internet privacy; and whether he believes health care is a basic right.

The parental leave question prompted a back and forth with the woman asking the question, who said, “You seem very concerned about the well-being of children before they’re born, but I’m wondering what happens to that compassion going forward,” in education, health care and more.

Labrador responded, “I am pro-life and I’m pro-life all the way,” drawing light cheers and applause. “But the difference that you and I have, sometimes people want that responsibility to be the burden of the government. I think that should be the burden of the local communities.” Talking of being raised by a single mother and drawing on a support system including church and friends, Labrador said, “So it’s not always the government.” When the questioner pressed him on paid parental leave, Labrador said, “I just don’t think we should provide it. We disagree on this.”

The health care question also prompted a back-and-forth. “No, I do not believe that health care is a basic right,” Labrador said to a roar from the crowd and loud boos. “When something is a right … it’s something that must be provided by the government. … But I do believe that people should have access to health care.” When the white-haired woman asking the question said people simply can’t afford it, he said, “I think we should take care of vulnerable people, I think we should take care of people that cannot work and cannot provide for themselves. But if you’re a working person, then we should make it easier and less expensive to you to purchase health care.”

A man in the crowd shouted loudly at Labrador, “Where do you get your health care?”

He responded, “Before I was a member of Congress, I got it from myself, and I provided it for the five families that worked for me.” That drew applause.

Later, when a questioner referred to the “Trump camp,” another man in the audience shouted, “That’s President Trump!”

When other questioners were interrupted by the crowd, Labrador said, “Honestly, you guys,” and said mildly that he can’t hear the question when others are interrupting.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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