ST. CHARLES – U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, faced a frequently raucous crowd of more than 500 people at a question-and-answer forum Tuesday at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.
Hosted by five League of Women Voters groups, Hultgren fielded questions for 90 minutes that covered topics ranging from forcing President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and abstinence-only sex education.
“I am committed to voting no,” Hultgren said, about the prospect of a health care bill being presented that would allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. “I have been very upfront about this. ... The current system we’ve got is not working like we thought it could.”
Hultgren represents the 14th Congressional District, which includes eastern DeKalb County, including the city of Sycamore. He had been pressed by some in the public to answer questions from constituents in the wake of Trump's election. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who represents the 16th District and the rest of DeKalb County, has faced similar demands but has not yet made such an appearance.
When Hultgren said health care reform could be done through a marketplace with options, it was met with boos and people holding up red cards – a symbol of disagreement.
Asked whether he would support a single-payer system such as Medicare for all, Hultgren responded: “I think Medicare is great. I don’t think it’s the only answer out there.”
Booing commenced again.
But the crowd did cheer when Hultgren said the most effective form of constituent advocacy was protest, and when he said he doesn't want to support another government shutdown.
To a question about why he co-sponsored a sex education bill, which was opposed by the American Medical Association because of the abstinence-only aspect of it, Hultgren said there was room for both types of sex education.
“We want our kids to be healthy and safe,” Hultgren said. “I think it’s a shame to believe your kids are going to make bad decisions.”
Hultgren said he agreed there should be a law in place requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, and he defended a procedural vote against requiring Trump to do so because the election was over.
“In America, we have ex-post facto – we cannot go backwards,” Hultgren said.
When asked whether he would take steps to impeach Trump if an investigation showed collusion between Trump and Russia to influence the election, Hultgren said, “What I’m going to do is my job.”
“I absolutely don’t trust Russia. They are not our friend,” Hultgren said. “I’m going to do everything I can to protect you. My allegiance is to you.”
Hultgren attended the forum after weeks of protests from constituents demanding a public town hall at his Campton Hills district office.
Among the constituents who attended was Linda Ottum of Huntley, who said she was happy to see that Hultgren finally agreed to a meeting with his constituents.
“I’m frightened for what’s happening in our country right now,” Ottum said. “I wish the people that we’re sending to Congress would work with one another across the aisle and try compromising instead of being in their own little factions. Nothing is getting done when they’re working that way.”
Ottum said that when she was young, Democrats and Republicans worked together.
“And now it’s so polarized that the people are not being served because of this type of action,” Ottum said.