Amid Heckles And Boos, Sen. Isakson Takes Questions At Town Hall | WABE 90.1 FM

Amid Heckles And Boos, Sen. Isakson Takes Questions At Town Hall

Aug 15, 2017

At home during Congress' August recess, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson faced a tough crowd of more than 600 people Monday night at his first in-person town hall since the 2016 election.

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All but a few in the crowd at Kennesaw State University wore stickers supporting progressive causes, like Planned Parenthood.

Isakson called on people, and health care drew more questions than any other topic. He was often interrupted by yells from the crowd as he tried to answer, and even drowned out by boos or applause.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson faced a crowd of more than 600 people Monday night at Kennesaw State University. He was often interrupted by yells from the crowd as he tried to answer, and even drowned out by boos or applause.
Credit Al Such / WABE

The three-term Republican senator defended his votes on recent health care bills, including one he said he supported at the time just in the hopes it would lead to a very different bill in the end.

"In the final presentation that was made to the bill I didn't like, but voted for,” Isakson said as jeers broke out in the crowd, “I couldn't get to where I wanted to go, unless I followed the road that led me there."

That Senate effort to repeal and replace Obamacare ultimately failed.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Isakson encouraged other senators to hold town halls. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, also of Georgia, has not held an in-person town hall since the election, and has none scheduled.

The RAISE Act

Isakson declined to endorse the immigration bill sponsored by Perdue and backed by the Trump administration.

The bill, known as the RAISE Act, seeks to curtail legal immigration.

Speaking about events and violence linked to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said: "Nothing rises to the nausea that it causes in me more than anti-Semitism, racism or organizations like the [Ku Klux] Klan, white supremacists or any others.”
Credit Al Such / WABE

Isakson said immigration levels should be tied to national unemployment as a way to ensure businesses can find the workers they need.

"I think it's a fine piece of legislation,” Isakson said. “I think it diminishes the amount of immigration, which is fine, too, but it ought to be calibrated against unemployment in the United States of America.”

Isakson and Perdue rarely disagree publicly.

Isakson said he may vote for the measure if it comes to the Senate floor, but he won't commit to a position.

Charlottesville Violence  

All elected officials should be expected to condemn racist groups, like those behind violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, Isakson said.  

"Nothing rises to the nausea that it causes in me more than anti-Semitism, racism or organizations like the [Ku Klux] Klan, white supremacists or any others,” Isakson said.

But Isakson refused to criticize President Donald Trump directly. Trump has been blasted by Republicans and Democrats for his delayed response to the violence.