The Rapidian

Amash and constituents clash at crowded town hall meeting

Video and annotated highlights of the Tuesday town hall meeting with U.S. Representative Justin Amash. The crowd became heated at the use of the term “Obamacare” and at mention of changes to Social Security.
U.S. Rep Justin Amash, pictured here in 2013, held a town hall meeting on Tuesday.

U.S. Rep Justin Amash, pictured here in 2013, held a town hall meeting on Tuesday. /Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

The town hall was held in the auditorium at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

The town hall was held in the auditorium at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. /Steven Depolo

On Tuesday, January 17, U.S. Representative Justin Amash hosted a town hall meeting for constituents of the Third Congressional District. The crowd packed the 250-seat auditorium at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and there were reports that another 250 people were turned away. As seats were being filled, Amash commented that in the past the town hall meetings had about two dozen attendees.

Here are some highlights of the meeting, as recorded via Facebook Live by attendee Cadence Jean Morton of Indivisible West Michigan. A note of the approximate minute marker from the video precedes each highlight.

  • 12:00 - Amash voted no on the House rules package, in part because a new rule stipulates that the Sergeant-in-Arms can punish House members for taking photographs on the House floor.

  • 17:40 - In explaining his budget vote, Amash referred to repealing “Obamacare.” Several members of the crowd shouted out and asked him to refer to it as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), due to confusion among the general public. Members of the crowd pointed out that some citizens who are against “Obamacare” are actually enrolled in the ACA health insurance plan.

  • 19:00 - Amash said he voted no on the budget because it's larger than ever before, it doesn’t balance or address U.S. debt, and it wasn't needed to repeal the ACA.

  • 23:00 and 49:00 - From the evidence he’s seen and the reports of the intelligence community, Amash said he does believe that Russia influenced the election, which he called “troubling.” He had concerns, not that the U.S. might improve relations with Russia, but that the President-Elect seemed to be constantly defending Russia in his many tweets.

  • 31:00 - Amash agreed with members of the audience that the announcements by FBI Director James Comey also influenced the election. He said he believed that Comey “made mistakes,” but that he’s not sure there was intent to influence. The crowd asked him to hold Comey responsible.

  • 36:00 and 57:00 - Members of the crowd asked for Amash’s views on the ACA. Amash replied that though he doesn’t want to go back to the state of things before the ACA, he believes in state control. He said the “right way” to do things is to legislate certain requirements for the states. When those requirements are met, that would trigger a repeal of the ACA.

  • 40:00 - Amash responded to concerns about climate change with a concern for the economic impact of environmental actions. He said he doesn't believe climate change measures will move forward in the current Congress.

  • 44:00 - When asked, Amash shared his concerns about the candidate for U.S. Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions supports surveillance methods including gathering metadata from phones, Facebook, etc., which Amash said was “absolutely wrong.” Amash is also against civil assets forfeiture -- property seizure by law enforcement -- in cases where no conviction stands.

  • 46:00 - The conversation touched briefly on Rex Tillerson, the Exxon executive being considered for Secretary of State. Amash said, “From a messaging standpoint, having someone from Exxon for the Secretary of State doesn’t seem right.”  

  • 49:00 - Amash spoke to the partisan nature of today's politics, with each side rooting for their team without consistency on the actual issues. The crowd applauded.

  • 53:00 - Amash reaffirmed his belief that public schools are a state issue.

  • 59:00 - Amash elicited a heated response from the crowd at first when he spoke of Social Security reform. He said that a transition should not affect current beneficiaries but should begin with younger generations.

  • 1:03:00 - Amash said he supports immigration reform and is against any form of Muslim registry. The crowd applauded.

As the event wrapped up, Amash said he would look into reserving a larger venue for future town hall meetings.

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