Rep. Amash defends voting record

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The sometimes controversial Rep. Justin Amash held his first town hall meeting of the year Wednesday night.

Known for his tweets and Facebook posts, he took questions from constituents face-to-face at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids and discussed how his recent political moves will help West Michigan.

Constituents shared their fears and thoughts regarding both the country and community. Among those concerns were the national debt, spending, health care, immigration and the environment.

Amash, the Republican representative for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District, said both parties are to blame for the issues. He says the whole system in Washington, D.C. is wrong.

"It's up to the people to decide who's right, ultimately. But I think it's important to point out some of the problems going on and make it clear that it's not just one side or the other -- that there are two parties here and that there's a systemic problem in D.C. that we need to look at and it's not right for one side to blame the other for all our dysfunction," Amash said.

So how is Amash different?

"I'm open," he said. "I'm transparent."

He does appear that way, taking to Twitter and Facebook after votes -- during which he often abandons the party line.

Amash started the year by voting against legislation to avoid the effects of the so-called fiscal cliff, saying there weren't enough spending cuts -- and tweeting that the legislation amounted to the Senate giving the "middle finger to everyone in America."

And Amash was one of only a few who voted against re-electing Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as Speaker of the House.

After Amash voted last week against billions in Hurricane Sandy relief, 24 Hour News 8 asked if Amash was voting the way he wanted to vote or if he was voting the way his constituents wanted him to vote.

"I'm voting the way the constituents want me to vote, which is to represent all the people in my district," said Amash. "We have a major spending problem in this country."

He said the disaster spending should have been planned for.

Shortly after, he rejected a bill to increase the federal flood insurance limit to $9.7 billion because, a spokesman said, there were not adequate spending cuts attached.

His voting record caused Republican leaders to boot him from his prominent role on the House Budget Committee in early December 2012. Amash maintains he can be effective even after being removed from the committee.

"Very effective," he said. "Because at the end of the day, what matters is that the people at home understand the problems in Washington, D.C. and that they put pressure on members of Congress."

Amash said he intends to spend 2013 focusing on his main concern: cutting spending.

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Michigan (change)

Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Rick Snyder
Lieutenant Governor: Brian Calley
Attorney General: Bill Schuette
Secretary of State: Ruth Johnson

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