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Congressman Rick Nolan Town Hall

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan played on the bombshell James Comey news as well as Obamacare repeal Thursday in Brainerd as he continued a series of in-district town hall meetings. “We’ve had some pretty far-reaching events happen this past week in the congress,” he told a forum at the Brainerd Public Library, by way of introductory remarks. Among the crowd of more than 40 people, a platoon of high schoolers sat in the second-to-front row. They were part of Brainerd High School’s Youth in Government and Model U.N. chapter, and came not because of any teacher prompting but simply because they were curious, BHS junior Thea Fisher explained. The distinctly Nolan-friendly crowd contrasted sharply with hostile crowds that have greeted Nolan’s Republican counterparts at their official town halls over the past few months. They laughed at his jokes and groaned when he mentioned the supposedly nefarious things the Republicans were up to. Nolan gave a characteristically exuberant and theatrical speech. And as he noted in his opening sentences, Nolan had quite a bit of grist for the speech-making mill. Holding up a copy of the GOP’s American Health Care Act that he had annotated himself, Nolan decried the bill, which aims to alter and repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. “You may be one of the few people with a congressman who’s read the thing,” he said. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan analysis arm of the government, scored a previous iteration of the AHCA. But Nolan said Republicans in the House of Representatives didn’t wait for the final version to be scored before they voted on it.