The Rapidian

Second Amash town hall at local high school packed, full of debate

Video and annotated notes of the town hall meeting held by U.S. Representative Justin Amash at City Middle High School on Thursday, February 9, 2017.
Representative Justin Amash at City Middle High School

Representative Justin Amash at City Middle High School /Cadence Morton

On Thursday, February 9, 2017 Representative Justin Amash hosted a town hall meeting for constituents of the Third Congressional District. Constiuents packed the auditorium at City Middle High School which can hold almost 600 people. Even though this crowd was more than twice as big as Amash's town hall in January,  many people were being turned away even before the event started.

Below is an annotation of the meeting, as recorded by attendee Cadence Jean Morton of Indivisible West Michigan. A note of the approximate minute marker from the video precedes each highlight. Sometimes commentary can be heard from Morton and her companions.

1:45 - Representative Amash instructs people with personal issues such as veterans' issues, immigration issues, receiving social security to contact his Grand Rapids' office.

3:00 "Now to the town hall. I think it's critical for members of Congress to hold in-person town halls like this." Loud cheers and claps from crowd.

5:45 Amash encourages crowd to focus on the facts and "not worry if we're Democrats or Republicans" Some clapping here.

6:12 There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about what's happening in Washington right now." Loud cheers and clapping

6:35 "Lots of reasons to be concerned when Democrats were in charge as well." Scattered boos and clapping.

6:50 Amash says many things that are hurting our country are bipartisan in nature. He mentions civil liberties. "You have people in Washington who are working together to undermine your rights. And that's a real shame."

8:00 Introduces immigration issues, says "I think a lot of people have the facts wrong on both sides."

8:02 First video ends

Amash talks about travel ban, immigrants, green card holders and refugees.

4:12-30 Attendee interrupts to read 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision. Loud cheers and clapping.

11:04 Amash discusses civil asset forfeiture. "Civil asset forfeiture is bad." Loud clapping.

14:25 First question from the crowd asking about "sensible gun control."

19:00 Attendees asks question about education, crowd boos bill Amash is supporting.

19:50 Constituent asks questions on education  Amash gives his view on the issue of federal and state dollars for education.

21:45 Amash met with both boos and cheers

22:20 Crowd gives standing ovation to commentor saying he'd be willing to make sacrifices to make sure all children have access to education.

23:30 Attendee says, "Without federal government insuring compliance to federal laws like the IDEA act, what will stop local school districts from failing to adequately service students with disabilities?" Loud cheers and clapping for this question.

24-26 Various members of crowd argue with Amash on role of state and federal government.

29:00 Amash is asked to have a special meeting on education.

30:00 Amash is booed for not withdrawling his support of a bill.

31:00  A woman from Comstock Park asks about  the raid in Yemen and wants to know "when there's going to be some hearing on this?" Claps from crowd.  Amash says he agrees with concerns, and also notes he shared these same concerns with President Obama. A lot of back and forth between Amash and the crowd. Amash says he doesn't start hearings because he's not on the pertinent committees.

35:00 Attendee asks question about social security. Amash says he's willing to consider raising the cap, but says it won't resolve the program because "it's a demographics program, it needs to be changed dramatically for younger people to work in the long run."

39:00 Woman asks about the Affordable Care Act. "Are you willing to fight not to repeal ACA?" Lots of clapping, cheers, standing ovation.

41:30 "I support repealing." Lots of boos, lady yells she'll die. "We should make sure there's a replacement at the same time or until the state replaces it." Some claps, lots of booing. Various things yelled from the crowd. "It has helped some people no doubt, it's also hurt a lot of people."

Lots of arguing and yelling from crowd.

43:50 Amash says "The main prob with the ACA is that it hasn't reduced the cost overall, just shifted it." More yelling from crowd, others saying "let him talk."

46:43 End of second video.

Second part of town hall to come.

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