Justin Amash

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Justin Amash
File:Rep. Justin Amash - 114th Congress.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Vern Ehlers
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 72nd district
In office
January 1, 2009 – January 1, 2011
Preceded by Glenn Steil
Succeeded by Ken Yonker
Personal details
Born (1980-04-18) April 18, 1980 (age 38)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kara Amash
Children 3
Residence Cascade Township, Michigan
Alma mater University of Michigan (B.A., J.D)
Occupation Attorney, Politician
Religion Orthodox Christian[1]
Website Government 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, based in Grand Rapids, had once been represented by former President Gerald Ford (the district was numbered as the 5th District at the time).

Amash was first elected to the House in the 2010 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 7th youngest U.S. Representative. He is Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus[2][3][4] and associated with the Tea Party movement.[5][6][7][8]

Amash has expressed interest in running for president in the future.[9][10]

Early life and career

Born in Grand Rapids, and raised in Kentwood, Amash is a second-generation Arab-American of Palestinian Christian and Syrian Greek Orthodox descent.[11] His father, Attallah, is a Palestinian business owner, whose family emigrated to the United States in 1956[12] through the sponsorship of a Christian pastor and his family. His mother, Mimi, is a Syrian immigrant to the United States.[13][14]

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.[14] Amash admires economists F. A. Hayek and Frédéric Bastiat.[15] Amash is married and the father of three children. He belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.[16]

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.[17][18]

Michigan House of Representatives


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., did not run because of term limits.[19] In the general election, Amash defeated Democrat Albert Abbasse 61%–36%.[20]


During his initial tenure in the State House, Amash sponsored 5 resolutions and 12 bills, but none of them passed.[21] He used his social media Facebook page to report on his floor votes and explain his reasoning. Amash was noted for his attendance record.[22]

U.S. House of Representatives



In its October 25, 2010, issue, Amash was named one of Time magazine's "40 under 40 – Rising Stars of U.S. Politics".[23] At the age of 30, Amash was the youngest federal candidate in the United States on the list of new civic leaders.[15]

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 also endorsed by the Club for Growth,[24] Ron Paul,[25] and FreedomWorks PAC[26] during his primary campaign.

During the general election, Amash campaigned on a conservative platform.[14] Amash defeated Democrat Patrick Miles Jr. 60%–37% in 2010.[27]


Amash won re-election to the U.S. House in 2012 for his second term, defeating Steve Pestka 53%–44%.[28][29]


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.[30][31] 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.[32][33][34]

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. About 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." He also took exception to one of Ellis' television ads that quoted California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes calling Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress," demanding an apology from Ellis for running what he called a "disgusting, despicable smear campaign."[35][36] 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."[36]

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


Amash has been noted for his attendance. Through 2012, he made every congressional vote.[37] Some congressional Republicans have accused Amash of grandstanding.[38]

Amash has tallied a very conservative voting record, which is notable for a district that has traditionally elected moderate Republicans.

Economic issues

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 also supports adopting a flat tax instead of having targeted tax breaks and subsidies. Amash opposes central economic planning which he believes contributes to unemployment, inflation, and dangerous business cycles.[15] Amash 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 with that specific proposal.[39] Earlier that year, Amash had introduced H.J.Res. 81, an alternative balanced budget amendment that addressed those concerns.[40] He believes that the federal government is improperly expanding its powers using the General Welfare, Commerce, and Necessary and Proper clauses.

Foreign affairs

Amash supports decreasing U.S. military spending, and believes there is significant waste in the military spending of the U.S. Department of Defense.[41] He believes that only Congress has the power to declare war, criticizing President Obama's attacks on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and his contemplated attack on Syria without Congressional approval.[42][43]

In 2011, Amash was one of only six congressmen who voted "Nay" on House Resolution 268 reaffirming the US commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli–Palestinian negotiation, which passed with 407 members in support.[12][44] In 2014, he was one of only eight congressmen who voted "Nay" on a $225 million package to restock Israel's Iron Dome missile defenses, which passed with 398 members in support.[45] He supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.[12]

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 US Department of Defense.[46] He called it "one of the most anti-liberty pieces of legislation of our lifetime".[47] 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.[48]

On March 14, 2016, Amash joined a unanimous majority in the House to approve a resolution declaring that ISIS is committing genocide against religious minorities, including Christians, in the Middle East (passed 383-0), but joined Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) in voting "Nay" on a separate measure creating an international tribunal to try those accused of atrocities by ISIS, the Assad regime, and other groups (passed 392-3).[49]

Domestic policy

Amash was the only representative from Michigan to oppose federal aid in response to the Flint water crisis.[50]

Security and surveillance

Amash is a frequent critic of the National Security Agency’s anti-terrorism surveillance tactics.[13][51][52]

Health care

He believes health insurance should not be mandatory, and he supports free market health care reforms that include interstate competition among insurance companies and increased access to health savings accounts.[15] He considers the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be an overreach of the federal government's powers and supports efforts to repeal it.


Amash wants 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 prevented the EPA from putting taxes on greenhouse gases.[53]

Social issues

Amash is considered pro-life, and generally opposes abortion and the use of federal funding for abortion.[54] He supports 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.[54][55] Although Amash opposes government funding for abortion, he voted "present", rather than "yes" or "no" on the 2011 Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, a bill that would defund 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".[56] 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."[56]


He 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.[38][57] Since Rand Paul's departure from the 2016 Republican Primary, Amash has endorsed Senator Ted Cruz in his bid for the presidency.[58]

Marijuana legalization and forfeiture

Amash and Ted W. Lieu (D) introduced a bill[59] to block the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from financing its Cannabis Eradication Program through civil asset forfeitures.[60] Under this Program around $18[61] million have been collected in 2013. Amash took aim at civil asset forfeiture in a statement; It allows for "innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process."[62]

Committee assignments

The House Republican Steering Committee removed Amash from the Budget Committee in late 2012 as part of a larger party leadership-caucus shift.[63][64] He joined Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and David Schweikert of Arizona in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, demanding to know why they had lost their "plum" committee posts.[65] A spokesperson for Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia said that Amash, Huelskamp and Schweikert were removed for "their inability to work with other members." Politico described the action as "the first members pulled off committees as punishment for political or personality reasons in nearly two decades".[66][67]:p.2

Caucus memberships


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  2. "Rep. Justin Amash Endorses Sen. Ted Cruz - Christine Rousselle". Townhall.com. 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2016-05-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Vern Ehlers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 3rd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Foster
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Lou Barletta