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Majority Makers: Justin Amash Isn’t Afraid to Walk Own Path

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Justin Amash isn’t afraid to break with the Republican Party on legislation he finds unconstitutional. According to Congressional Quarterly, in votes where majorities of the two parties opposed each other, Amash stuck with the GOP 89 percent of the time in 2011.

"Some figures I've seen are actually lower than this," he said almost disappointedly after seeing his CQ grade. Open Congress, he and an aide said, scored him in the 70s.

Vigor in All Topics

Just to the right of Amash's Austrian economists photo shrine sits a large framed cartoon character that looks like Mickey Mouse.

"That's not Mickey Mouse; that's Oswald," Amash corrected. "He predates Mickey."

Amash spent the following five minutes prattling on about Oswald, Disney's first major character, a lucky rabbit that looks like Mickey Mouse.

Amash's love for Disney characters shows that not all his passions are super brainy. But like his wonky delights, he goes to extremes on behalf of his other causes.

Take his transparency and accountability fixation, for example. His belief that Americans should have easy access to their legislators' voting records and rationalizations led him to start explaining every yea or nay he casts on the House floor.

He's the first lawmaker to do such a thing, a tradition he started while serving in the state House. His Facebook reporting has won him praise from other lawmakers, been featured in dozens of newspapers, including Roll Call, and drawn 20,000 "likes."

The "About Me" section on his website details his and his staff's salaries and health care benefits also in the name of transparency.

"The public wants to see what their Members are doing," he said. "How is taxpayer money being spent? How are Member of Congress voting? So I try to make every effort possible to let my constituents know what is going on in my office."

In the name of transparency and good governance, he won't vote in favor of legislation or amendments he hasn't read, which sometimes leads him to vote "present."

"I think a lot of times Members vote along with their party," he said. "They use the party as a shorthand for how they should vote on things. I just don't operate that way."

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