2017-04-13 / Columns

Congressman Amash Frets Trump

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Troubling Trump as much as Democrats on the political front early in the 2017 season is the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which includes Michigan GOP 3rd District U.S. Representative Justin Amash of Grand Rapids.

The 2016 Almanac of American Politics said Amash, elected in 2010, “has been perhaps the most iconoclastic member of his iconoclastic class. A persistent thorn in the side of House GOP leaders with his libertarian views, he lost his seat on the Budget Committee in 2012 for his refusal to toe the party line.”

Amash has been such a thorn to Trump that the president’s social media director, Dan Scavino, Jr., has called for his defeat in the 2018 GOP primary, according to The Detroit News. The paper said Scavino in a tweet said Trump “is bringing auto plants and jobs back to Michigan” and Amash “is a big liability.”

Amash and others in the Freedom Caucus opposed the Trump-backed GOP health care bill that failed in March in the House, prompting Trump to declare that the party “must fight them” as well as Democrats in 2018.

The Detroit News said Amash told an audience he’s “not worried” about a potential challenger. “Notably, he outpaced Trump by nearly eight percentage points in November’s election.”

Amash said: “My constituents know what I stand for. They want someone who’s independent, who stands up for all of them, and someone who’s going to follow the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, defend liberty. And they have that person in Congress right now.”

That person is quite a contrast to some earlier persons who have represented the Grand Rapids-centered congressional district. Most notable: Gerald R. Ford, who became House GOP leader, Vice President, and President.

A particularly solid congressman in recent decades was eight-term Representative Vern Ehlers.

As noted by the Almanac of American Politics:

“Politically, the Grand Rapids area has been the center of Michigan Republicanism for much of the last century; cultural conservatism and a belief in market economics run deep among the descendants of the pious Dutch immigrants who settled in western Michigan in the 1870s.”

Champion for Veterans

President Trump has placed a high priority on improving operation of the Veterans Administration and has a solid ally in 1st District U.S Representative Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), a former Marine lieutenant general.

Commenting on recent House passage of legislation he co-sponsored, the freshman congressman said:

“Our veterans have given their all and they deserve our all, but unfortunately, vulnerabilities in the VA’s reporting processes have allowed incompetence, neglect, and even illegality on the part of VA employees to go unchecked.

“This legislation is about filling those gaps and giving the VA Secretary the flexibility to dismiss or demote employees for poor performance or misconduct. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, making sure that veterans come first is my priority. I’m proud to have cosponsored this bill that aims to replace the VA’s culture of complacency with a culture of transparency, accountability, and care for our veterans.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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