Kentucky Democrat faces heat over health care, energy bill

WASHINGTON _ Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., is in the political crosshairs as an increasingly vocal group of conservatives assails him for his position on health care and a controversial vote on a bill aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Chandler, an early supporter of President Barack Obama's candidacy, has found himself in the uneasy position of trying to balance his support for the administration's health care overhaul with his own discomfort over proposals on how to structure and fund changes.

Chandler is part of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 52 moderate-to-conservative House Democrats from largely rural or small-town districts. The group sent several cautionary letters to House leadership about the pace and shape of health care overhaul efforts and helped stall any legislation until this fall.

Ostensibly, the delay is geared toward giving lawmakers an opportunity to go home and talk with constituents in open forums about the matter during the August recess.

But Chandler has no such plans in the works. Instead, he'll meet with small groups of stakeholders to discuss their concerns.

"Congressman Chandler will continue to discuss issues with constituents at events and meetings in each county in the Sixth Congressional District as he has done every August recess in the past," said Chandler spokeswoman Jennifer Krimm.

"However, we are concerned about the lack of civility and lack of meaningful dialogue displayed at some meetings in the town hall format across the country, and there are no town hall meetings planned at this time."

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