Posted by on March 05, 2012 in Blog

You know there is something wrong when a lawmaker, who is commonly praised for his unwavering commitment to uphold Constitutional values, is also labeled the most “contrarian” member of his political party. Representative Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, is a Member of Congress that has a tendency to vote out of sync with his party more than most other Republican Members. Amash is not a secret Democrat or a moderate – far from it. He’s a Libertarian who rode the tea party wave last election to success in Michigan’s 3rd district. His distinction from others in his Party is based on the principle that personal beliefs should not circumvent one’s adherence to Constitutional values. But Amash isn’t only a legislator with a special ideology; he authors significant legislation and works hard to obtain support for his bills. For these reasons, Amash occupies a unique role in Congress, forced to navigate the area between adhering to strict Constitution-focused principles and the fact that he is a newcomer in Congress with big ideas.

Today an article by Rachel Blade in Congressional Quarterly put Amash’s predicament into perspective. “[Amash’s] situation illustrates the downside of being a freshman in an institution where seniority rules,” she wrote. But the 31 year-old Amash is a doer, Blade explains, and she gives him points for his persistence: “The tenacious lawyer-turned-lawmaker, who served in the Michigan House, takes extraordinary measures to shine the spotlight on his causes.” Blade quotes Amash as saying, "I think a lot of times Members vote along with their party…They use the party as a shorthand for how they should vote on things. I just don't operate that way." In Washington’s hyper-partisan environment, it’s refreshing to see a Member of Congress stick to their guns even if it means voting against his party.

Below is an excerpt from Rachel Blade’s report in Congressional Quarterly.

Rep. Justin Amash knows how a battle-worn activist feels.

Trudging from House office to House office, and sometimes from seat to seat on the House floor, the freshman Republican from Michigan spent his free office hours last fall asking colleagues to support his baby — a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

He visited about 60 Members, tirelessly talking with anyone who would listen as he outlined the reasons his amendment was better than the multitude of other BBA proposals.

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Read related AAI blog posts on Congressman Justin Amash:

"Justin Amash Votes by the Book"

"Three Arab American Endorsements Bolster GOP Presidential Bids"

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