Justin Amash

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Justin Amash
Justin Amash official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byVern Ehlers
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 72nd district
In office
January 1, 2009 – January 1, 2011
Preceded byGlenn Steil
Succeeded byKen Yonker
Personal details
Born (1980-04-18) April 18, 1980 (age 38)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Kara Amash
EducationUniversity of Michigan (BA, JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Justin A. Amash (/əˈmɑːʃ/; born April 18, 1980) is an American attorney and Republican member of Congress. In January 2011, he began serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 3rd congressional district. The district is based in Grand Rapids and was once represented by President Gerald Ford.

Amash was first elected to the House in the 2010 Congressional election. Previously he was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives representing the 72nd District, which is centered on the city of Kentwood and includes his home in Cascade Township as well as the townships of Caledonia and Gaines. At the age of 30, Amash assumed office as the second youngest sitting U.S. Representative (behind 29-year-old Aaron Schock of Illinois). As of January 2016, Amash is the seventh youngest U.S. Representative. He is Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus[1][2][3] and associated with the Tea Party movement.[4][5][6][7][8] Amash has been described and self-identifies as a libertarian Republican.[9][10][11][12][13] He was described as a diligent member of Congress and a "stickler for rules" who has "never missed a vote" in Congress.[14] Amash missed his first vote in March 2017, after six years as a U.S. Representative.[15]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Grand Rapids, and raised in Kentwood, Michigan, Amash is a first US born generation Arab-American son of a Palestinian Christian father and a Syrian Christian mother.[16]

His father, Attallah, is a business owner, whose family immigrated to the United States in 1956[17] through the sponsorship of a Christian pastor and his family. His mother, Mimi, is a Syrian immigrant to the United States.[18][19]

Amash attended Kelloggsville Christian School in Kelloggsville and graduated as class valedictorian from Grand Rapids Christian High School. He graduated from the University of Michigan magna cum laude with a B.A. in economics and earned his J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School in 2005.[19] Amash admires economists F. A. Hayek and Frédéric Bastiat.[20]

Amash is married and the father of three children. He is an Orthodox Christian in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.[21]

After graduating from the University of Michigan, he became a consultant to his family's tool business. He worked as a corporate attorney for his family's business for a year, before being elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008.[22][23]

Michigan House of Representatives[edit]


Amash ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008 in Michigan's 72nd House District. During this time, he donated to the campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and John McCain.[citation needed] In the Republican primary, he won a five candidate election with 41% of the vote, defeating opponent Ken Yonker by 723 votes, a 6.3% margin. The incumbent, Glenn D. Steil, Jr., was barred from running by term limits.[24] In the general election, Amash defeated Democrat Albert Abbasse 61%–36%.[25]


During his initial tenure in the State House, Amash sponsored five resolutions and twelve bills, but none of them passed.[26] While in the State House, Amash began using his Twitter and Facebook pages to report his floor votes and explain his reasoning. Amash was noted for his perfect attendance record, until he missed a vote on March 10, 2017.[27]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In its October 25, 2010, issue, Amash was named one of Time magazine's "40 under 40 – Rising Stars of U.S. Politics".[28] At the age of 30, Amash was the youngest federal officeholder in the United States on Time's list.[20]

On August 3, 2010, Amash won the five-way Republican primary for the seat vacated by retiring Republican Vern Ehlers with over 40% of the vote. He was endorsed by the Club for Growth,[29] Ron Paul,[30] and FreedomWorks PAC[31] during his primary campaign.

During the general election, Amash campaigned on a conservative platform.[19] Amash defeated Democrat Patrick Miles, Jr. 60%–37% in 2010.[32]


Amash won re-election to the U.S. House in 2012 for his second term, defeating Steve Pestka 53%–44%.[33][34]


After initial speculation that he might run for the U.S. Senate, Amash confirmed that he would run for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2014.[35][36]

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.[37][38][39]

After Amash defeated Ellis in the August primary, with 57.4% of the vote to Ellis' 42.6%, 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' 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."[40][41] As 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."[41]

In the general election, Amash defeated Democrat Bob Goodrich and Green Party candidate Tonya Duncan with 58% of the vote.[42]


Amash won re-election to the U.S. House in 2016 for his fourth term, defeating Douglas Smith 59%–38%.[43]



Amash has been noted for his attendance. From January 2011 to February 2017, Amash missed none of the 4,243 roll call votes.[44][45]

Political positions[edit]

Economic issues[edit]

Amash supports free markets with limited government regulation. He advocates for economic freedom and believes that stimulus programs and government bailouts are ineffective ways to energize the economy. He supports adopting a flat tax in lieu of targeted tax breaks and subsidies. Amash opposes central economic planning, which he believes contributes to unemployment, inflation, and unstable business cycles.[20]

He was one of four Republicans who joined 161 Democrats to oppose a Constitutional amendment that would require a yearly balanced budget, due to serious concerns[clarification needed] with that specific proposal.[46] Earlier that year, Amash had introduced H.J.Res. 81, an alternative balanced budget amendment that addressed those concerns.[47]


Amash supports decreased federal intervention in energy-related issues. He wants to eliminate government-sponsored subsidies for energy production and decrease overall regulation. He believes that no form of energy production should be specially favored or restricted. In addition, Amash supports minimizing federal environmental regulations. He voted in favor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which would have amended the Clean Air Act of 1963 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating specified greenhouse gasses as air pollutants.[48][49]

Flint water crisis[edit]

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." Instead Amash contended that "the State of Michigan should provide comprehensive assistance to the people of Flint."[50]


Amash has expressed opposition to political gerrymandering. He said in 2018, "I firmly believe there should be an independent process for drawing districts. They should be based on geographic considerations, and they should be as compact and contiguous as possible...I always felt the maps should be drawn in a way that is less political and more based on geographic considerations."[51]

Health care[edit]

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.[52] Amash initially opposed the American Health Care Act, describing it as "Swampcare",[53] tweeting that "It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump"[54] and criticizing House leadership for attempting to "ram it through."[55] Nevertheless, Amash voted for the updated AHCA plan before the Congressional Budget Office could determine its impact or cost.[56]


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.[57][58] 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.”[58]

Security and surveillance[edit]

Amash has been a frequent critic of the National Security Agency's anti-terrorism surveillance programs.[18][59][60]

He voted against the 2011 reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act,[61] the 2012 reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act,[62] and the USA Freedom Act.[63]

Amash opposed President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail Muslim immigration until better screening methods are devised. He stated: "Like Pres. Obama's executive actions on immigration, Pres. Trump's executive order overreaches and undermines our constitutional system."[64]

Amash proposed an amendment to the reauthorization bill of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[65] 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.[66][67] While the Amash amendment received bipartisan support as well as support from civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union,[68] the amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 183 to 233.[69]

Social issues[edit]


Amash is considered pro-life, and generally opposes abortion and the use of federal funding for abortion.[70]

While Amash opposes government funding for abortion, he 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. He explained, "Legislation that names a specific private organization to defund (rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity) is improper and arguably unconstitutional".[71] 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."[71]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

He supported a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act as per his Twitter account, stating that the "real threat" to traditional marriage and religious liberty is government, and not gay couples.[70][72]

Suicide prevention hotline[edit]

In July 2018 Amash was the only member of the U.S. House to vote against creating a three-digit suicide prevention hotline. He wrote on Twitter, “It’s another good idea without a constitutional basis. I swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I take that oath seriously. Constitutional limits are meaningless if we ignore them whenever we like the policy outcome.”[73]


Amash endorsed Ron Paul for president in 2012. Paul's brother, David, was an assistant pastor in Amash's district and endorsed Amash, saying the Michigan congressman shares common ground with Paul. He has also endorsed Senator Rand Paul for president in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.[45][74] After Paul dropped out of the Republican primary race, Amash endorsed Senator Ted Cruz in his bid for the presidency.[75]

Donald Trump[edit]

In 2016 Amash made headlines by joining the list of Republicans who opposed the GOP nominee for President, Donald Trump.[76][77][78] After Trump was elected president, the Huffington Post profiled him in an article with the following title, "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."[79][80]

On January 14, 2017, Trump sent out a series of tweets criticizing Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of the main leaders in the 1960s civil rights movement. Amash responded with a quick quip, "Dude, just stop."[81]

On April 1, 2017, senior White House aide Dan Scavino tweeted that Amash was "a big liability" and urged followers to "defeat him in primary." Amash later referred to Trump as a "childish bully," saying that his attacks would be "constructive in the fifth grade. It may allow a child to get his way, but that's not how our government works."[79][82]

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 was reported as the first Republican congressman to publicly state that the allegations, if proven true, merited impeachment.[83] This report is contested by the office of Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who claims that he was the first to recognize that if true, the allegations merit impeachment.[84][85]

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..."[86] In July 2018 Amash strongly criticized Trump's press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Amash tweeted, "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."[87]

Marijuana legalization and forfeiture[edit]

Amash and fellow U.S. Representative Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced a bill[88] to block the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from financing its Cannabis Eradication Program through civil asset forfeitures.[89]

According to a DEA performance budget submitted to Congress for the fiscal year (FY) 2014, the DEA received $18 million in FY 2013 funding for cannabis eradication from the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Fund.[90] Amash took aim at civil asset forfeiture in a statement, saying that the practice allows for "innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process".[91]

Amash co-sponsored H.R. 1227, also known as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. The bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Thomas Garrett (R-VA).[92]

Foreign affairs[edit]

Amash speaking at the 2016 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Amash supports decreasing U.S. military spending, and believes there is significant waste in the military spending of the U.S. Department of Defense.[93]

He believes only Congress has the power to declare war, criticizing President Obama's military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and intervention in Syria, for proceeding without a Congressional declaration of war.[94][95]

In 2011, Amash was one of six members of Congress who voted "Nay" on 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.[17][96]

In 2014, he was one of eight members of Congress who voted "Nay" on a $225 million package to restock Israel's Iron Dome missile defenses, which passed with 398 members in support.[97] He supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.[17]

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,[98] calling it "one of the most anti-liberty pieces of legislation of our lifetime".[99] 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.[100]

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 (passed 383–0), but joined Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) in voting "Nay" on a separate measure creating an international tribunal to try those accused of participating in the alleged atrocities (passed 392–3).[101]

In 2017, Amash criticized U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, highlighting 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."[102]

In July 2017, Amash joined Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Duncan Jr. (R-TN) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in opposing a bill that would impose new economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Trump opposed the bill, pointing out that relations with Russia were already "at an all-time and dangerous low." He did, however, sign the bill though likely out of political pressure.[103]

Committee assignments[edit]

Note: This list is not complete.

115th Congress
114th Congress
113th Congress
112th Congress

The House Republican Steering Committee removed Amash from the House Budget Committee in late 2012 as part of a larger party leadership-caucus shift.[104][105] He joined Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) and David Schweikert (R-Arizona) in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, demanding to know why they had lost their committee positions.[106]

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".[107][108]:p.2

Caucus memberships[edit]


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External links[edit]

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

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

Party political offices
New office Chairman of the Liberty Caucus
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Foster
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Lou Barletta