Congress

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP, declares independence

Amash was only Republican to say Trump committed impeachable offenses

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is leaving the Republican Party. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the first GOP lawmaker to say that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, is leaving the Republican Party.

“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote in a Thursday op-ed in The Washington Post that does not mention Trump.

A libertarian who was elected to the House in 2010, Amash has often been at odds with leadership of his own party.  On the House floor, he has voted with a majority of Republicans 84 percent of the time he's been in Congress, compared with 94 percent for the average House Republican, according to CQ's Vote Watch. He's supported Trump just 63 percent of the time compared with 95 percent for the party average.

Amash helped found the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus but left the group in June after it condemned his remarks about Trump and impeachment.

That stance also earned him several primary challengers in Michigan’s 3rd solidly Republican District, which backed Trump by 9 points in 2016.  Amash won his fifth term representing the district last year with 54 percent of the vote.

The president bid Amash good riddance on Twitter, calling him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress” and “a total loser!”

In his op-ed, Amash describes how his parents were Republicans and he grew up supporting GOP candidates. His father was a Palestinian refugee who came to the U.S. when he was 16. 

“The Republican Party, I believed, stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty — principles that had made the American Dream possible for my family,” he wrote. 

But Amash writes that he grew “disenchanted” with the two-party system, calling it an “existential threat to American principles and institutions.”

“Instead of acting as an independent branch of government and serving as a check on the executive branch, congressional leaders of both parties expect the House and Senate to act in obedience or opposition to the president and their colleagues on a partisan basis,” he wrote.

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