Hill, Cotton set joint public meeting in Little Rock
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and U.S. Rep. French Hill will hold a public meeting Monday afternoon in west Little Rock, and liberal activists say they'll be there to speak out.
In addition, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack will be holding public meetings across Northwest Arkansas.
This will be Cotton's third such event in less than two months; he spoke to a large crowd in Springdale in February and joined up with U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford in Heber Springs in March for another question-and-answer session.
Cotton, a Republican from Dardanelle, and Hill, a Republican from Little Rock, announced plans for the hour-long event in a news release Tuesday. The meeting will take place at 2 p.m. Monday at the Embassy Suites hotel, 11301 Financial Centre Parkway.
Constituents have been clamoring for this type of event, and Hill was happy to add one to his schedule, his spokesman, Mike Siegel, said.
"There's a large group of Arkansans that have reached out to our office asking for a town hall and the congressman wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to ask their questions and then hear his responses," Siegel added.
The senator's spokesman, Dylan Haney, said Cotton looks forward to the event.
"It's a great opportunity for him to interact with Arkansans directly," he added. "We're hopeful as many Arkansans will come out as possible."
Terrie Root, one of the leaders of Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas, said members of her group had been calling lawmakers' offices "pretty much daily" to request this type of meeting.
She expressed frustration with the 2 p.m. start time, however, saying it would prevent many of the group's members from attending.
"[Cotton's] trying to avoid as many of us as possible," she said.
Cotton's spokesman said the time was selected because both lawmakers were available then, not to drive down turnout.
In February, Root and other Indivisible activists held a hastily organized meeting at a Little Rock church that the lawmakers said they were unable to attend. Portraits of the elected officials were placed on music stands and organizers fired questions at the photos. Instead of answers, the audience heard cricket sounds, played on Root's cellphone.
Cotton, who faced more than 2,000 people at the Springdale event, promised last month that he would have a similar forum in Pulaski County.
In Northwest Arkansas, many of the speakers objected to Republican plans to curb immigration and to end the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They also sharply criticized President Donald Trump. Portions of the Northwest Arkansas event aired live on CNN.
Sarah Scanlon, who ran Bernie Sanders' Arkansas campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, said she's excited that the Little Rock meeting will finally take place.
"We've been requesting it for a long time," she said. "[Cotton] was elected by the people of Arkansas, and he needs to be listening to the people of Arkansas."
The afternoon time slot, which falls during normal working hours, is "infuriating," she said, but predicted people would come anyway.
"I think there absolutely will be a decent crowd," Scanlon said. "I think there are some people who are mad enough that they they will go out of their way to make sure he hears them."
Cotton also will speak at noon on April 19 at a Clinton School of Public Service event, fielding written questions from the audience. The school's dean, Skip Rutherford, said 625 people have already reserved seats. The location is yet to be determined.
Womack, who has already held public meetings in Russellville and Harrison, will hold another from 5:30-7 p.m. today at the Van Buren Fine Arts Center, 2001 Pointer Trail in Van Buren.
The Republican from Rogers will hold a meeting Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. in White Auditorium, Burns Hall, Northwest Arkansas Community College, 1 College Drive, Bentonville.