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Sen. Toomey Addresses Public Questions at Town Hall

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In his second televised town hall this year, Republican Senator Pat Toomey took questions from the public at PBS39 studios in Bethlehem. Moderated by PBS39’s Laura McHugh, Senator Toomey answered more than twenty questions on various issues, starting with healthcare.

“I’d like to talk to you about my son who is severely developmentally disabled. He resides in a residential facility and so Medicaid plays a big part in his care,” said Glynnis from Emmaus.

“The unintended dynamics of the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid I think creates a somewhat dangerous incentive for states to shift resources away from the very people that you’re referring to,” replied Toomey.

Fifty-four people were in the studio audience. Thirty seats were distributed to the public on a first come first serve basis. Twenty-four seats went to members of the Lehigh and Northampton County Republican and Democratic committees. More than 400 questions were submitted in advance from audience members and from others online. The questions were chosen by PBS39 editorial staff and partners at the Morning Call and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. Another popular topic: President Trump’s response to the recent violence in Charlottesville.

“It’s important for a president to demonstrate moral clarity and moral leadership and that was a moment when he should have been much more clear about an unequivocal condemnation of these people who are just despicable,” Toomey said.

Outside the studios, several dozen demonstrators assembled with signs and flags concerned about gun control, universal healthcare and immigration.

“We want to know if Senator Toomey is going to stand for Pennsylvania and the stricter rules that we have for concealed carry,” said Dr. Fritz Walker.

“What has happened in this administration has been a threat to me personally. Losing healthcare is a literal death sentence for people and I think that is something that’s glossed over a lot,” said Shawna Knipper.

“We’re out here to call on Senator Pat Toomey to defend DACA, a program that protects 800,000 people - gives 800,000 people in our country legal status,” said Adanjesus Marin.

Some protesters carried signs saying “fake town hall” - criticizing the size and nature of the event. Toomey addressed this when asked about it during the town hall.

“We have opportunities through social media which we have used to engage to a very great extent. I have met with protesters who have been protesting outside of my office. I’ve brought them into my office in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Johnstown and Washington,” said Toomey.

PBS39 has also extended Town Hall invitations to Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Matt Cartwright, and Congressman Charlie Dent.