Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) has never been afraid to meet his constituents face-to-face and discuss the hard issues, even with the political system as bitter and divided as it has ever been. Amash was happy to defend his positions during two town hall events last week, even on particularly contentious topics like military policy and his frequent clashes with President Trump.
Amash received some flak from the audience for his ‘no’ vote against the “Make America Secure” Appropriations Act. Combined with his ‘no’ votes against Trump-backed immigration measures, this has caused many Republicans to question Amash’s motives. Nevertheless, Amash stands by his voting record and maintains that he is only following fiscally prudent and constitutionally viable measures.
“We have these appropriations bills into 12 different areas and what we really should do is go through these appropriations separately so that we can analyze that particular area and decide whether the appropriations are appropriate for that particular area,” Amash said. “Since I’ve been in Congress, we’re spending way too much on everything. That was true before I was elected as well.”
Amash was also grilled on health care. Despite hearing several objections from angry liberal Democrats in attendance, Amash stood his ground against Obamacare while remaining empathetic to the concerns of his constituents.
“We should work together. I do think we should start over,” Amash said during a townhall at East Grand Rapids High School. “But I do think we should repeal the ACA.”
One of Trump’s fiercest critics within the Republican Party, Amash attempted to explain his recent votes and series of statements. Despite being alarmed about Trump’s possible corrupt dealings with Russia, Amash still remains in staunch opposition against economic sanctions that could lead to warfare down the road.
“The Russian sanctions were far too broad and too undefined and the bill doesn’t specify what can be sanctioned,” he said. Amash continued on to say that Robert Mueller should be kept on as special investigator, and that he would speak out against Trump if Mueller were fired.
“I’ve express my concern about this administration. I could come up with a complaint every day if I wanted to,” Amash said.
Amash is also concerned about Trump’s weapons deals with the Saudis. Amash defended his proposed amendment to an appropriations bill that would have banned the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, a radical Islamic kingdom that operates entirely under Sharia Law.
“I don’t think we should be selling weapons to Saudi Arabia while they’re fighting a pretty brutal war in Yemen,” Amash said. “And they have a terrible human rights record.”
There is a learning curve for Amash as he learns to navigate through the minefield that is American politics in the Trump era. Based upon his town hall appearances last week, he will not be backing down from his stances no matter how controversial they may be–even if standing by those positions may cost him his job next year.