Colonel William A. Phillips

Justin Amash (/əˈmɑːʃ/; born April 18, 1980) is an American lawyer and politician who has served as the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 3rd congressional district since 2011. Originally a member of the Republican Party, Amash became an independent in July 2019 before joining the Libertarian Party in April 2020. Amash is the first member of the Libertarian Party to serve in Congress.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amash was born to Arab Christian parents who had immigrated to the United States. After high school, he studied economics at the University of Michigan, then earned a law degree at the University of Michigan Law School and briefly worked as a corporate lawyer before entering politics.

Amash represented the 72nd district in the Michigan House of Representatives for one term before being elected to Congress in 2010. From January 2011 to January 2019, Amash missed only one of 5,374 roll call votes although he has been criticized for his high number of present votes.[2][3] Amash chaired the Liberty Caucus and is the first and only Libertarian to hold a seat in Congress. Amash received national attention when he became the first Republican congressman to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump, a position he maintained after leaving the party.

Following months of speculation that he would enter the presidential race,[4][5] Amash announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination on April 28, 2020, but on May 16 announced that he would not run.

Early life and education

Justin Amash was born on April 18, 1980, in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Arab Christians who immigrated to the United States. His father, Attallah Amash, is a Palestinian Christian who immigrated to the United States in 1956 at age 16 through the sponsorship of an American pastor and his family.[6] His mother Mimi is a Syrian Christian who met his father through family friends in Damascus, Syria, and the two married in 1974.[7][8][9][10]

Amash was raised in Kentwood, Michigan. He first attended Kelloggsville Christian School in Kentwood, then attended Grand Rapids Christian High School, from which he graduated in 1998 as class valedictorian. He then attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics with high honors. He stayed at the university to attend the University of Michigan Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 2005.[10]

After graduating from law school, Amash spent less than a year as an attorney at the Grand Rapids law firm Varnum.[10] He then became a consultant to Michigan Industrial Tools Inc. (also known as Tekton Inc.), a company his father founded and owned.[11] He worked for his family's business for a year before being elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008.[12][13] Amash's two brothers also have positions at Michigan Industrial Tools.

Amash and his wife Kara Day attended high school together and married after he graduated from Michigan and she from Calvin College. They have a son and two daughters.[14]

Political career

Michigan House of Representatives

Glenn D. Steil Jr., the incumbent state representative for Michigan's 72nd House District, was unable to run for reelection in the 2008 election due to term limits. Amash ran in the Republican primary and defeated four other candidates before defeating Democratic nominee Albert Abbasse in the general election.

During his initial tenure in the State House, Amash sponsored five resolutions and twelve bills, but none of them passed.[15] While in the State House, he began using his Twitter and Facebook pages to report his floor votes and explain his reasoning and had a government transparency page on his website that would allow people to view the members and salaries of his staff.[16][17]

U.S. House of Representatives

Republican (2010–2019)

Justin Amash in 2011

On February 9, 2010, Amash announced that he would run for the Republican nomination for Michigan's third congressional district and the next day incumbent Representative Vern Ehlers announced that he would not seek reelection.[18] During the primary campaign he was endorsed by Betsy and Dick DeVos, the Club for Growth, Representative Ron Paul, and FreedomWorks PAC.[19][20][21][22] In the Republican primary he defeated four other candidates and shortly before the general election he was named as one of Time magazine's "40 under 40 – Rising Stars of U.S. Politics".[23] During the campaign he advocated politics supported by the Tea Party movement and defeated Democratic nominee Patrick Miles Jr. in the general election.

The House Republican Steering Committee removed Amash from the House Budget Committee on December 3, 2012, as part of a larger party leadership-caucus shift.[24][25][26] He joined Representatives Tim Huelskamp and David Schweikert in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, demanding to know why they had lost their committee positions.[27] A spokesperson for Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia said that Amash, Huelskamp, and Schweikert had been removed for "their inability to work with other members." Politico said that the three were "the first members pulled off committees as punishment for political or personality reasons in nearly two decades".[28][29]:p.2

Following the retirement of Senator Carl Levin it was speculated that Amash would run in the 2014 Senate election and Senator Mike Lee encouraged him to run, but Amash chose to run for reelection to the House.[30][31][32]

Amash was endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth PAC, which spent over $500,000 supporting Amash in his Republican primary against former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis, who was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and spent more than $1 million of his own money on the race.[33][34][35]

After Amash defeated Ellis in the August primary, with 57% of the vote to Ellis's 43%, Amash was highly critical of Ellis and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who had backed Ellis. Of Hoekstra, Amash said, "You are a disgrace. And I'm glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance." Amash took exception to one of Ellis's television ads that quoted California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes calling Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress"; he demanded an apology from Ellis for running what he called a "disgusting, despicable smear campaign."[36][37] As Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic notes, "Amash voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, favored a measure to repeal indefinite detention, and opposed reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act."[37] In the general election, Amash won reelection against Democratic nominee Bob Goodrich.[38]

Amash at the 2019 Young Americans for Liberty Convention

In 2011, Amash endorsed Representative Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.[39][40] In 2015, he endorsed Senator Rand Paul's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and later endorsed Senator Ted Cruz after Paul dropped out.[41]

Independent (2019–2020)

On July 8, 2019, days after announcing that he was leaving the Republican Party, Amash formally submitted his resignation to Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Conference Leader Liz Cheney. In the process, he resigned his seat on the Committee on Oversight and Reform. If he had not resigned, he would have been automatically removed and replaced with another member upon his departure from the House Republican Conference.[42] House rules state that standing committee memberships "shall be contingent on continuing membership in the party caucus or conference" which assigned the legislator to that committee.[43]

Libertarian (2020–present)

In April 2020, Amash switched parties and announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination, but in May 2020, he announced he would not run due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, Amash became the first Libertarian member to serve in either house of Congress.[44]

Political positions

Amash has described himself as a libertarian, dissenting from both Republican and Democratic leaderships more frequently than the vast majority of Republican members of Congress.[45][46][47] Amash is regarded as one of the most libertarian members of Congress, receiving high scores from right-leaning interest groups such as the Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America, and Americans for Prosperity, and praise from limited-government think tanks and nonprofit organizations.[48][49][50][51] He was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus,[52] a group of hard-line conservative Republicans in the House.[53][52] In June 2019, Amash left the caucus.[54] On July 4, 2019, he announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent.[55] He officially announced his membership in the Libertarian Party in late April 2020.[56]

Before leaving the GOP, Amash gained a reputation as a gadfly within the Republican Party; his staunchly libertarian and sometimes contrarian views resulted at times in disagreements with party leadership and other members of the Michigan congressional delegation.[57][58]

Amash has called economists F. A. Hayek and Frédéric Bastiat his "biggest heroes" and political inspirations,[59] and has described himself as "Hayekian libertarian".[60] When The New York Times asked him to explain his approach to voting on legislation, he replied, "I follow a set of principles. I follow the Constitution. And that's what I base my votes on. Limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty."[61]

Domestic

Abortion

Amash opposes abortion and federal funding for abortion.[62] He describes himself as "100 percent pro-life"[63] and in 2017 voted in favor of federal legislation to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.[64]

Amash voted "present", rather than "yes" or "no", on the 2011 Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, which provided for the cessation of federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Although he supports eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he abstained from defunding legislation, arguing that "legislation that names a specific private organization to defund (rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity) is improper" and an "arguably unconstitutional" bill of attainder.[61][65]

In May 2012, Amash was one of seven Republicans to vote against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would have made it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a woman who wants to end a pregnancy based on the gender of the fetus. He criticized the bill as ineffective and virtually impossible to enforce, and said Congress "should not criminalize thought", while maintaining that he believes "all abortion should be illegal".[66][67]

D.C. statehood

On June 26, 2020, Amash voted against H.R. 51, a D.C. Statehood bill.[68]

Death penalty

In July 2019, he cosponsored Representative Ayanna Pressley's bill that would abolish the death penalty at the federal level.[69]

On February 26, 2020, he was one of four representatives who voted against the "Justice for Victims of Lynching Act", which recognized lynching as a federal hate crime, stating that it would expand the use of the death penalty and that the acts criminalized by the bill are already illegal under federal law.[70][71]

Drug policy and police

On March 17, 2010, Amash was the only member of the Michigan House of Representatives to vote against making benzylpiperazine a schedule 1 drug, saying that penalties for nonviolent crimes shouldn't be increased.[72]

Amash and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced a bill[73] to block the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from financing its Cannabis Eradication Program through civil asset forfeiture.[74] Amash took aim at civil asset forfeiture in a statement, saying the practice allows "innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process".[75]

Amash co-sponsored H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, which was introduced by Thomas Garrett.[76]

Economic

Amash opposes government bailouts and tax increases.[59]

In 2011, Amash introduced H.J. Res. 81, a Constitutional amendment proposal that would require a balanced budget over the business cycle with a ten-year transition to balance.[77] That same year, he was one of four House Republicans who joined 161 Democrats to oppose an alternative balanced budget resolution[78] without a federal spending cap, that would have required annual balance, that would have put the President's budget in the Constitution, and that could have created a perverse incentive for military conflict to avoid balance.[79]

Energy and environment

Amash has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing that many environmental regulations are too strict.[80] He voted for the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which would have amended the Clean Air Act of 1963 to prohibit the EPA from regulating specified greenhouse gases as air pollutants.[81] In a 2017 debate, Amash "exaggerated uncertainty around the basics of climate science"—specifically, the scientific consensus that carbon emissions cause climate change.[82] But in a 2020 interview, Amash said that climate change is a real and "very important" issue,[83] that he believes climate change is being driven at least in part by human activity and that "action with respect to climate change" should be taken.[83][84] Amash opposes regulations to combat climate change,[83][84] arguing that we should instead "use clean technologies and to invent new technologies that will keep our environment clean."[84] He opposed Obama's decision to sign the Paris Agreement to combat climate change,[85] voted against legislation to block Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement,[86] and voted for legislation "expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy."[86] He opposes government subsidies for nuclear energy or any other form of energy production.[83]

Amash was the only representative from Michigan to oppose federal aid in response to the Flint water crisis, arguing that "the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to intervene in an intrastate matter like this one." He contended that "the State of Michigan should provide comprehensive assistance to the people of Flint" instead.[87]

Gerrymandering

Amash opposes political gerrymandering, saying in 2018 that he strongly supported adopting "an independent process for drawing districts" based on geographic considerations, so that districts would be "as compact and contiguous as possible."[88] Amash was the only Republican member of Michigan's congressional delegation who did not join a federal lawsuit challenging the state's political boundaries.[89]

Health care

On May 4, 2017, Amash voted in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and to pass a revised version of the American Health Care Act.[90] Amash initially opposed the American Health Care Act, describing it as "Swampcare",[91] tweeting that "It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump"[92] and criticizing House leadership for attempting to "ram it through."[93] Nevertheless, Amash voted for the updated AHCA plan before the Congressional Budget Office could determine its impact or cost.[94]

Political reform

Amash has pointed to structural problems in how Congress operates. He believes that many members have put "party above principles," in both the Democratic and Republican parties.[95] He notes that many in Congress lack an understanding of parliamentary procedure, allowing leadership to dictate what legislation is passed.[96] Amash notes that campaign finance poses significant challenges, but states, "I don’t know how to resolve it because I’m a big believer in free speech."[97]

Religion

In November 2011, he was one of nine representatives who voted against a House resolution that affirmed In God We Trust as the official motto of the United States and was the only Republican to do so.[98] On February 13, 2013, he voted against the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013, which would make all places of religious worship eligible for FEMA grants, stating that bill "skews the law away from fairness by making religious buildings automatically eligible for reconstruction aid when other entities aren’t".[99]

Same-sex marriage

While running for the House of Representatives in 2010, Amash supported the Defense of Marriage Act, but in 2013 he advocated repealing it, saying that the "real threat to traditional marriage & religious liberty is government, not gay couples who love each other & want to spend lives together".[100][101] He supported the result of Obergefell v. Hodges (in which the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples cannot be deprived of the fundamental right to marry) on the grounds that government-issued marriage licenses should not be "necessary to validate the intimate relationships of consenting adults."[102][103]

Security and surveillance

Amash has been a frequent critic of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.[9][104][105]

He voted against the 2011 reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act,[106] the 2012 reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act,[107] and the USA Freedom Act.[108]

In 2013, Amash and 15 other members of Congress filed an amicus brief in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court supporting the release of the Court's unpublished opinions regarding the "meaning, scope, and constitutionality" of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.[109] On June 12, 2013, he called for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to resign due to him stating that the NSA did not collect data at a Senate committee hearing in March.[110]

In 2013, Amash was one of two Republicans to vote in favor of closing Guantanamo Bay and transferring its detainees. The amendment by Representative Adam Smith would have eliminated all funding for the detention facility by December 31, 2014, removed all limitations on the transfer of detainees, removed a ban on the transfer of detainees to the United States and removed statutes that had banned the use of taxpayer funds for the construction of facilities in the United States for those detainees. It failed on a 174-249 vote.[111][112][113]

In 2016, Amash was one of three Republicans to vote in favor of an amendment to close Guantánamo Bay and potentially allow federal officials to transfer detainees to facilities in the United States. It failed on a 163-259 vote.[114]

Amash opposed President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to ban citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Amash said: "Like President Obama's executive actions on immigration, President Trump's executive order overreaches and undermines our constitutional system."[115]

Amash proposed an amendment to the reauthorization bill of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[116] The Amash amendment would have required the government in criminal cases to seek a warrant based on probable cause before searching surveillance data for information about Americans.[117][118] While the Amash amendment received bipartisan support as well as support from civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union,[119] the amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 183 to 233.[120]

Suicide prevention hotline

In July 2018, Amash was the only member of the U.S. House to vote against creating a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline. He argued that Congress lacked the constitutional power to pass the legislation, saying it was a "good idea" but lacked a "constitutional basis".[121] Freelance journalist Jim Higdon asked Amash how the Constitution prohibits "preventing suicide by hotline"; Amash responded, "The correct question under our Constitution is: What is the authority for the legislation? We live under a Constitution that grants Congress limited, enumerated powers."[122]

Transgender rights

In 2017, Amash was one of two dozen Republicans to vote against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prohibited taxpayer funds from being used by the Department of Defense to provide gender transition support to military members. He said, “Those who serve in our Armed Forces deserve the best medical care...With respect to transgender persons, we should focus on the best science, not the political or philosophical opinions of partisans”.[123][124]

In 2019, Amash voted "present" on a resolution objecting to Trump's restrictions on transgender individuals in the military.[125]

In May 2020, Amash announced he would support and protect transgender Americans, saying, “I think that people can take the term ‘sex’ that's in federal law and interpret it to mean things beyond what it traditionally meant...I would protect transgender Americans under the protections that exist for sex".[126]

Foreign

Diplomacy

In May 2020, Amash expressed support for U.S. membership in the United Nations as a "positive venue" for diplomatic engagement.[127]

Immigration

At a January 2013 town hall event, Amash responded to a question about immigration reform, "I don't think you can just grab people and deport them...I think we need to have a system that is sympathetic to people, looks at their situations and allows as many people to stay here as possible." On March 21, 2013, he and five other representatives signed a letter to U.S. Senator Rand Paul supporting immigration reform in the form of a "three-pronged stool" of border security, expanding legal immigration and "addressing" immigrants who came here "knowingly and illegally".[128] In August he explained his support for immigration reform, saying improving the legal immigration system to make it more accessible would lead to fewer illegal border crossings. He announced his support for a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He also supported an eventual path to citizenship once the undocumented obtained legal status.[129][130]

In July 2017, Amash was the only Republican to vote against Kate's law, a bill that increased maximum penalties for criminals who entered the U.S. illegally more than once. He later said he was concerned the bill did not have adequate 5th amendment due process protections for undocumented immigrants to challenge their removal orders.[131][132]

In July 2018, House Republicans introduced a resolution supporting the officers and personnel of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Amash was the only Republican in the chamber to vote against the resolution.[60][133] He tweeted, "The House voted today on an inane resolution regarding ICE. The resolution makes several dubious claims and denounces calls to abolish ICE. I wouldn't abolish ICE without an alternative, but there's no reason to treat a federal agency as though it's beyond reproach and reform."[133]

In December 2018, Amash was one of eight House Republicans to vote against a stopgap government funding bill that included $5.7 billion in border wall funding. He tweeted, "This massive, wasteful spending bill—stuffed with unrelated items—passed 217–185. It's amazing how some wall funding causes my fellow Republicans to embrace big government."[134]

In February 2019, Amash was the only House Republican to co-sponsor a resolution to block Trump's declaration of a national emergency to redirect funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without a congressional appropriation for such a project. He wrote, "A national emergency declaration for a non-emergency is void", and "[Trump] is attempting to circumvent our constitutional system."[135] On February 25, Amash was one of 13 House Republicans to vote to block Trump's declaration.[136]

Military

Amash speaking at the 2016 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention in Washington, DC

Amash supports decreasing U.S. military spending, and believes there is significant waste in the U.S. Department of Defense.[137]

He believes only Congress has the power to declare war, and has criticized multiple military actions taken by Presidents Obama and Trump. In July 2011, he sponsored an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act that would have prevented funding for operations against Gaddafi's government and Amash later stated that President Obama's actions during the Libyan Civil War were unconstitutional without authorization from Congress.[138] He criticized President Obama's intervention in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for proceeding without a Congressional declaration of war.[139]

In 2011, Amash was one of six members of Congress who voted against House Resolution 268 reaffirming U.S. commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli–Palestinian negotiation, which passed with 407 members in support.[8][140] In 2014 he was one of eight members of Congress who voted against a $225 million package to restock Israel's Iron Dome missile defenses, which passed with 398 members in support.[141] He supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[8]

Amash joined 104 Democrats and 16 Republicans in voting against the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which specified the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense,[142] calling it "one of the most anti-liberty pieces of legislation of our lifetime".[143] Amash co-sponsored an amendment to the NDAA that would ban indefinite military detention and military trials so that all terror suspects arrested in the United States would be tried in civilian courts. He expressed concern that individuals charged with terrorism could be jailed for prolonged periods of time without ever being formally charged or brought to trial.[144]

On March 14, 2016, Amash joined the unanimous vote in the House to approve a resolution declaring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to be committing genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East (it passed 383–0), but joined Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) in voting against a separate measure creating an international tribunal to try those accused of participating in the alleged atrocities (it passed 392–3).[145]

In 2017, Amash criticized U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, arguing that "Al Qaeda in Yemen has emerged as a de facto ally of the Saudi-led militaries with whom [Trump] administration aims to partner more closely."[146]

In July 2017, Amash was one of only three House members to vote against the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a bill that imposed new economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The bill passed the House on a 419–3 vote, with Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and John Duncan Jr. (R-TN) also voting no.[147][148] Trump initially opposed the bill, saying that relations with Russia were already "at an all-time and dangerous low", but ultimately signed it.[148]

In January 2019, Amash voted against legislation that would prevent the President from unilaterally withdrawing from or altering NATO,[149] although he subsequently said that he supports U.S. NATO membership, pointing to his 2017 vote to affirm NATO's Article 5.[150]

In 2019, Amash signed a letter led by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Rand Paul to Trump arguing that it is "long past time to rein in the use of force that goes beyond congressional authorization" and that they hoped this would "serve as a model for ending hostilities in the future – in particular, as you and your administration seek a political solution to our involvement in Afghanistan."[151][152]

In October 2019, Amash criticized Trump's proposed withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria for having "green-lighted" the 2019 Turkish offensive into northeastern Syria against Kurdish forces.[153][154][155]

In January 2020, Amash voted in favor of the "No War Against Iran Act", which sought to block funding for the use of US military force in or against Iran unless Congress preemptively signed off. This proposed act is more restrictive than the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days without congressional authorization. It passed the U.S. House on a 228-175 vote. Amash also voted to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force (AUMF), which passed the U.S. House on a 236-166 vote.[156][157][158]

Criticism of Donald Trump

In 2016, Amash joined the list of Republicans who opposed the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.[159][160] After Trump was elected president, the Huffington Post profiled him in an article titled "The One House Republican Who Can't Stop Criticizing Donald Trump"; Amash said, "I'm not here to represent a particular political party; I'm here to represent all of my constituents and to follow the Constitution."[161][162]

After Representative John Lewis (D-GA) said that Trump was not a "legitimate president," Trump sent out a series of tweets on January 14, 2017, criticizing Lewis. Amash responded to Trump's tweets with one of his own: "Dude, just stop."[163] Amash later explained, "The reason I did it is he wouldn't stop ... The way he feels so slighted about everything I think is not healthy for our country." Amash felt that Lewis' comments were "inappropriate" but said that Trump's response should have been "dignified and conciliatory to the extent possible" instead of "personal jabs, attacking his district".[164]

In April 2017, Dan Scavino, a senior Trump White House aide, called for Amash to be defeated in a Republican primary challenge. Amash later called Trump a "childish bully."[161][165]

In May 2017, Trump was accused of pressuring fired FBI director James Comey to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Amash and Carlos Curbelo were the first Republican members of Congress to publicly state that the allegations, if proven true, merited impeachment.[166][167][168]

In June 2018, the Huffington Post asked House Republicans, "If the president pardoned himself, would they support impeachment?" Amash was the only Republican who said "definitively he would support impeachment".[169] In July 2018, Amash strongly criticized Trump's conduct at a meeting in Helsinki with Russian president Vladimir Putin, writing: "The impression it left on me, a strong supporter of the meeting, is that 'something is not right here.' The president went out of his way to appear subordinate. He spoke more like the head of a vassal state."[170]

When Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019, Amash asked him, "What is the truth President Trump is most afraid of people knowing?" Democrat Krystal Ball wrote, "Amash showed how someone actually can exercise oversight responsibility and try to get to the truth, even if the truth might not be in his party's short-term best interest."[171] CNN editor Chris Cillizza wrote, "The Michigan Republican did something on Wednesday that almost none of his GOP colleagues seemed willing to even try: Ask Cohen questions about his relationship with Trump that might actually shed some new light on not only their relationship but on the President of the United States."[172]

Comments on the Mueller Report

In May 2019, Amash said that Trump "has engaged in impeachable conduct" based on the obstruction of justice findings of the Mueller Report, which, Amash said, "few members of Congress have read".[173] Amash also said that Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented" the report's findings[174] and that partisanship was making it difficult to maintain checks and balances in the American political system.[175] Amash was the first Republican member of Congress to call for Trump's impeachment.[176] In response, Trump called Amash a "loser", accused him of "getting his name out there through controversy", and stated that the Mueller report had concluded that there was no obstruction of justice.[175][48] Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, accused Amash of "parroting the Democrats' talking points on Russia."[175] She did not explicitly express support for a primary challenge against Amash, but tweeted, "voters in Amash's district strongly support this president."[48] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, claimed that Amash "votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever does with me"; PolitiFact evaluated this as false.[177] Republican Senator Mitt Romney described Amash's statement as "courageous", though he disagreed with Amash's conclusions.[178] The New York Times reported that while many Republicans supported Trump in public, they criticized his actions in private.[179] Shortly after making his remarks on impeachment, Amash received a standing ovation from the majority of attendees at a town hall meeting in his district. He told the crowd that Trump was setting a bad example for the nation's children.[180]

Two days after Amash's comments, state representative James Lower announced that he will challenge Amash in the 2020 Republican primary, running as a self-described "pro-Trump conservative."[181] Another challenger in the Republican primary is Army National Guard member Thomas Norton, who announced his candidacy in April.[182] Three other Republicans are also seeking the nomination to oppose Amash.[183]

Republican Party departure

On July 4, 2019, Amash announced in a Washington Post op-ed that he was "declaring his independence" from partisan politics and leaving the Republican Party to become an independent.[184] Citing his extensive differences with both political parties, Amash wrote he felt partisan politics had become so overpowering that Congress no longer functioned as an independent legislative body: "We are fast approaching the point where Congress exists as little more than a formality to legitimize outcomes dictated by the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader."[185] Amash thus became the only independent in the House of Representatives, and the first independent in the House since Bernie Sanders of Vermont (who left the House in 2007 after being elected to the Senate); and one of three independents in the United States Congress, along with Sanders and Senator Angus King of Maine.[186]

On October 31, 2019, Amash was the only non-Democrat in the House to vote in favor of an impeachment inquiry against Trump in connection with the Trump-Ukraine scandal.[187][188][189] On December 18, 2019, he voted in favor of both articles of impeachment against Trump, the only non-Democrat to vote in favor of either article.[190][191] When Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in his Senate trial, Amash tweeted, "Thank you, @SenatorRomney, for upholding your oath to support and defend the Constitution. You will never regret putting your faith in God and doing right according to the law and your conscience."[192]

The End Qualified Immunity Act

In early June 2020, Amash and Ayanna Pressley introduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act.[193][194] The act would remove from law enforcement officers, and other officials, the protection of qualified immunity that routinely protects them from prosecution when they claim that acts that would otherwise trigger criminal charges were committed as part of performing their official duties.

2020 presidential exploratory committee

On April 28, 2020, Amash announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination.[195] On May 16, he withdrew his name from consideration for the Libertarian nomination, citing economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that would make campaigning difficult, in addition to increased political polarization.[196][197]

Electoral history

Justin Amash electoral history
2008 Michigan 72nd State House District Republican primary[198]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash 4,733 41.4%
Republican Ken Yonker 4,010 35.1%
Republican Linda Steil 2,170 19.0%
Republican David Elias 320 2.8%
Republican Timothy Cyrus 199 1.7%
Total votes 11,432 100.0% (rounded)
2008 Michigan 72nd State House District election[199]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash 31,245 61.0% -4.7%
Democratic Albert S. Abbasse 18,463 36.0% +4.3%
Libertarian William Wenzel III 1,559 3.0% +1.6%
Total votes 51,267 100.0% (rounded)
2010 Michigan 3rd Congressional District Republican primary[200]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash 38,569 40.4%
Republican Steve Heacock 25,157 26.3%
Republican Bill Hardiman 22,715 23.7%
Republican Bob Overbeek 5,133 5.4%
Republican Louise E. Johnson 4,020 4.2%
Total votes 95,594 100.0% (rounded)
2010 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[201]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash 133,714 59.7% -1.4%
Democratic Patrick Miles Jr. 83,953 37.5% +2.1%
Libertarian James Rogers 2,677 1.2% -2.3%
Constitution Theodore Gerrard 2,144 1.0% +1.0%
Green Charlie Shick 1,575 0.7% +0.7%
Total votes 224,063 100.0% (rounded)
2012 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[202]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash (incumbent) 171,675 52.6% -7.1%
Democratic Steve Pestka 144,108 44.2% +6.7%
Libertarian William J. Gelineau 10,498 3.2% +2.0%
Independent Steven Butler (write-in) 2 0.0% +0.0%
Total votes 326,283 100.0% (rounded)
2014 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[203]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash (incumbent) 39,706 59.7%
Republican Brian Ellis 33,953 42.6%
Total votes 69,128 100.0% (rounded)
2014 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[204]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash (incumbent) 125,754 57.9% +5.3%
Democratic Bob Goodrich 84,720 39.0% -5.2%
Green Tonya Duncan 6,691 3.1% +3.1%
Total votes 217,165 100.0% (rounded)
2016 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[205]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash (incumbent) 203,545 59.5% +1.5%
Democratic Douglas Smith 128,400 37.5% -1.5%
Constitution Theodore Gerrard 10,420 3.0% +3.0%
Total votes 342,365 100.0% (rounded)
2018 Michigan 3rd Congressional District election[206]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Justin Amash (incumbent) 169,107 54.4% -5.0%
Democratic Cathy Albro 134,185 43.2% +5.7%
Constitution Theodore Gerrard 7,445 2.4% -0.6%
Independent Joe Farrington (write-in) 3 0.0% +0.0%
Total votes 310,740 100.0% (rounded)

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

See also

Notes

References

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  149. ^ Amash, Justin (January 23, 2019). "Yesterday, the House voted on an extreme, misguided measure regarding NATO. This bill doesn't simply instruct @POTUS he can't withdraw without congressional approval; rather, it includes a blanket rejection of *any* proposal *ever* to Congress to alter this alliance. I voted no".
  150. ^ Amash, Justin (January 23, 2019). "I didn't say it binds Congress into perpetuity; I said it contains a *current* statement of policy that "reject[s] any efforts" to substantially change this alliance anytime. I support NATO (see http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll328.xml …), but this bill includes reckless policy I can't support". External link in |title= (help)
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  154. ^ Amash, Justin (October 7, 2019). "1. We shouldn't have any U.S. forces in Syria without congressional approval. 2. We shouldn't tell Turkey it's okay to invade Syria. President Trump is keeping troops in Syria; just moving some. And despite Trump's Twitter warnings, Turkey would not invade without his go-ahead".
  155. ^ Amash, Justin (October 7, 2019). "U.S. forces should not even be in Syria without congressional approval. Regardless, Turkey would not take this action without the express consent of the White House. It's disingenuous for President Trump to suggest it's all about "ISIS fighters" when the target is Kurdish forces".
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External links

Michigan House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 72nd district

2009–2011
Succeeded by
Ken Yonker
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Vern Ehlers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 3rd congressional district

2011–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kweisi Mfume
United States Representatives by seniority
150th
Succeeded by
Karen Bass