Mast defends health care vote, Trump at town hall


Fielding questions from a raucous town hall crowd of 350 or more on Monday, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, defended his vote for a Republican health care bill and told critics of President Donald Trump it would be “completely irresponsible” to speculate on impeaching him.

The crowd at the Kane Center included many people wearing T-shirts from the group Indivisible Martin County, which touts itself as “resisting the Trump agenda.” There were also many Mast supporters in the room. Most of those who asked questions during the 2½-hour meeting were critical of Trump and the Affordable Health Care Act that Mast voted for in the House.

“You’re a Republican. The head of your party is President Trump. I have to tell you in all honesty, the man’s a liar,” said one man early in the evening. “When President Trump says I had nothing to do with the Russians and to the best of my knowledge no one I knew had anything to do with the Russians, how in the hell can you believe him? Do you believe him?”

Mast replied: “Yes, I do believe him,” drawing a loud mixture of boos and cheers.

RELATED: More coverage of Rep. Brian Mast

Mast then noted that the House, the Senate and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting investigations into the matter.

If any of those investigations show Trump obstructed justice, Mast was asked, would he vote to impeach the president?

“I am not going to sit here whatsoever and speculate on anything having to do with impeachment. It is completely irresponsible,” Mast said.

In response to another query about Trump and impeachment, Mast said: “Whatever the finding is of former FBI Director Mueller, I hope that everybody, me included, respects the findings of that investigation. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

The most impassioned statements from the audience were about health care.

“You’re going to kill me. I’m going to die. A lot of people are going to die because you supported a bill that you didn’t even read,” said a woman who said she had brain lesions and other pre-existing conditions that require frequent MRIs and scans.

Mast said he did read that bill and that it protects people with pre-existing conditions. But critics say the House bill would enable states to allow insurers to raise costs for sick people.

Bishop Joseph Kidwell of Greater Grace and Deliverance Ministries in Fort Pierce said he voted for Mast because he opposes abortion. But Kidwell said the health care bill would hurt poor children and families in the “desperate area” his church serves.

“I voted for you because you’re pro-life. … Does being pro-life only apply to before you’re born?” Kidwell asked.

Some questioners acknowledged the current Affordable Care Act has problems, but shouldn’t be scrapped entirely.

“Fix it! Fix it! Fix it!” many in the crowd chanted at one point.

Another woman said her adult son has leukemia and requires $11,000 a month in medications.

“I see people roll their eyes about Medicaid. I’ve never taken a cent. I’ve worked since I was 13 mowing lawns. I don’t take a handout,” the woman said. “Maybe you can put your kid’s face on my kid’s face for a minute. It’s not politics. It’s people. It really is. … So how are you going to help my son?”



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