Concerns over Trump administration dominate Labrador town hall in Meridian By Holly Beech firstname.lastname@example.org HollyBeechMP Apr 19, 2017 (…) U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, answers questions at a large town hall meeting Tuesday at Meridian Middle School. Holly Beech/MP Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, held a town hall Wednesday night at Meridian Middle School, taking questions from a sometimes hostile crowd. Holly Beech/MP A young man asks about police accountability at U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador's town hall in Meridian Tuesday. Holly Beech/MP U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador U.S. House Office of Photography MERIDIAN — A loud, passionate and sometimes ornery crowd filled Meridian Middle School Tuesday night to quiz U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador on topics ranging from President Trump’s tax returns to health care and flaws in the nation’s immigration policies and efforts in Congress to reform those laws.For Labrador, a four-term Republican from Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, the town hall was the first since last September and the first opportunity for voters to raise concerns since Trump took office in January.Before the meeting got underway, people lined up and waited for three hours to get inside the school auditorium. Several raised concerns about the policies and decisions made so far by the Trump administration — from the expensive and frequent weekend trips to Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, to questions about Trump’s ties with Russia during the campaign. × Advertisement For one woman who addressed Labrador, the time has come for lawmakers to demand the President release his tax returns.“I want you to do your job and demand that Trump release his tax returns,” one woman said. “He may be making economic policy to benefit his own pocketbook.”Labrador said there’s been no evidence of any wrongdoing in the business decisions being made by the Trump administration.“I don’t think that there’s anything in the law that requires the president to release his tax returns,” Labrador said.Legislative and FBI investigations, he added, have found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.Another woman, who was in tears as she approached the microphone, hoisted a sign stating: “I am a constituent and I am pissed.”“Where the hell were you when Trump was getting away with the inflammatory things he was saying, how he openly mocked a reporter?” she asked. “The day after the election, I had to explain to my stepson how we elected a monster.”Labrador countered by saying he didn’t support Trump during the primaries. But as Election Day approached, Labrador said he clearly viewed Trump as a better option than Democrat Hillary Clinton.“There are things that you find objectionable about (Trump’s) presidency, ... just like there were things that other people found equally objectionable about the old president,” Labrador said.Labrador also defended some of the decisions made by Trump and his team so far, though he admitted he would like to see the president show more discretion when using Twitter.A few people expressed disappointment with how polarized and divided the nation has become. Yet at times, the atmosphere of Tuesday night’s meeting reflected that division, with the crowd often erupting in boos or shouting at each other. Still, the crowd and the congressman managed to keep emotions mostly in check, enabling the event to continue for nearly three hours.Labrador kept a calm tone and joked about how popular he was that night. He said he still enjoys holding town halls and plans to hold more in other parts of the state in coming weeks, including an event scheduled Monday night in Nampa.HEALTH CAREMany who spoke voiced concern about access to affordable health care.Labrador reiterated his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature policy achievement. But he said the latest Republican-led proposal to repeal and replace the ACA wasn’t the right solution.“I don’t believe that health care should be provided by the government,” Labrador said. “But I do believe that people should have access to health care.”That answer provoked a response from a woman who stated: “I have access to buy a Mercedes. The only problem is, I can’t afford a Mercedes. Many people can’t afford decent health care if it is not provided by the government.”Another constituent added: “You seem very concerned about the well-being of children before they’re born, but I wonder what happens to that compassion going forward, in terms of the positive changes you could make in the areas of health care, education and parental leave.”Labrador, who is pro-life and supports defunding Planned Parenthood, said communities should be more involved in the responsibility to care for people.“I think we need to stop relying so much on the government and start relying more on each other,” he said.EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENTOn questions about education, Labrador said he supports eliminating the U.S. Department of Education and giving more power to the states to set education policy and goals.“I want to see more of the money going to the classroom and less money going to administration,” he said.Regarding environmental regulations, Labrador said climate change is real, but it’s unclear if climate change is a man-made problem. He also responded by saying it’s not the government’s role to meddle in the issue.MIDDLE EASTWhen a constituent shared his worries about America’s recent missile strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, Labrador said the nation is involved in a war in Afghanistan. He said Trump’s decision to authorize the military to do what is necessary to end the war was appropriate.“I’m grateful that Trump is showing some spine,” said Labrador, adding that Trump should have sought approval from Congress to fire missiles in Syria. “I’m grateful that he is showing the world that there is new leadership.”IMMIGRATION, REFUGEESLabrador said he supports a refugee program, but the problem is “we’re not properly vetting the refugees who are coming into the United States.”The government must reform and modernize its immigration policy, he said, which should first and foremost be fair to U.S. citizens.“Is enforcing immigration law xenophobic? No,” Labrador said. “If you’re here illegally, you don’t have a right to be in the United States.” More from this section Regional youth baseball teams competing at Settlers Park Posted: July 20, 2017 Meridian city leaders to discuss Chinden, growth, budget at town hall Posted: July 20, 2017 3rd mosquito trap in Ada County tests positive for West Nile Virus Posted: July 19, 2017 Meridian Police to be honored at international conference, but comes with video cost of $22K Posted: July 19, 2017 Mold found at every Meridian fire station racks up $70K bill Posted: July 19, 2017 HollyBeechMP Follow HollyBeechMP Close Get email notifications on HollyBeechMP daily! Your notification has been saved. There was a problem saving your notification. Whenever HollyBeechMP posts new content, you'll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link. Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items. Save Manage followed notifications Follow HollyBeechMP Close Followed notifications Please log in to use this feature Log In Don't have an account? Sign Up Today Comments Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK. Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything. Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person. Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts. Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article. Latest E-Edition Meridian Press Read the latest edition of the Meridian Press in our e-edition format, which combines the familiarity of the printed-paper format with the convenience of reading on your phone, tablet or desktop computer from anywhere. Issues prior to August 18, 2016 YouReport This is your chance to be the reporter. Tell us what's going on with you, your kids, and your community. Share your child's latest achievements, talk about that pothole that never gets fixed, or just speak your mind on what is happening in your community. Submit Your Articles Share the news that is important to you and your community. Post articles about local events, sports teams, community organizations, and more! Submit Your Photos Do you have a great local photo that you want to share with the world? Add it here!