July 31, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Amash Explains Votes on Facebook

Freshman Member Uses Social Networking Site To Keep Constituents Informed on His Positions

Bill Clark/Roll Call

Why did anti-abortion conservative Rep. Justin Amash vote against his party on an amendment that would block funding for Planned Parenthood?

You can find the answer on Facebook.

If you’re still confused, send Amash a message through the social networking site, and he may respond personally.

Since taking office in January, the freshman Michigan Republican has posted an explanation on his official Facebook page for every vote that he has cast in Congress. He even responds to a select few personal messages related to his voting record.

“I think it’s important for constituents to hear from the people they elected,” Amash said. “For too many years our elected officials have operated in the dark. People think they elected conservatives or liberals, but the Members don’t act the way people wanted them to. People need to know who they elected and what kind of votes are going through Congress.”

While Republicans and Democrats ping-ponged on the House floor over an amendment from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to the continuing resolution that prohibited funding for Planned Parenthood earlier this year, Amash was uploading his thoughts to the Internet:

“I voted ‘present’ on Amendment 11 to HR 1, because while I oppose abortion funding, the language, as drafted, violates my conservative approach to legislating,” he wrote in a February Facebook note. “Legislation that names a specific private organization to defund (rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity) is improper and arguably unconstitutional.”

Amash, 31, started his political Facebook page while campaigning for a Michigan Legislature seat in 2007. Then 27, he was already familiar with social media since he operated his own personal Facebook account for friends and family.

When he won the race and assumed office in 2009, Amash started explaining his votes and has continued the tradition ever since. He brought the practice to Congress. If he casts it on the House floor — procedural or otherwise — he records it on his page.

He has a routine: Press the appropriate button on the House voting machine, plop down in one of the chamber’s leather chairs, grab his iPad and explain.

Unlike most Members who assign staff to update their social media profiles, Amash writes every message. Mostly he reaches for his iPad, but sometimes he’ll use his iPhone or the computer in his office to update his profile.
The time of day has no bearing on his posts.

“If I think something interesting is worth posting, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the night or early in the morning,” he said. “I just try to keep the public informed about what I’m thinking.”

Social media is not all business for Amash. There’s also the occasional conservative economics philosophical post. (He loves him some Friedrich Hayek.) And the multimedia-savvy lawmaker also links videos and political articles to his page.

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