I served in the Michigan state House of Representatives from 2009-10. I am currently serving my first term in the U.S. House of Representatives (MI-3). I am the second youngest Member of Congress (32) and the first ever to explain every vote I take on the House floor (at http://facebook.com/repjustinamash). I have never missed a vote in the Legislature or Congress, and I have the most independent voting record of any freshman Representative in Congress. Ask me anything about—anything.

http://facebook.com/justinamash http://twitter.com/justinamash

I'll be answering your questions starting at 10 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 22.

UPDATE 1: I have to go to a lunch meeting. I'll be back to answer more of your questions in a couple hours. Just starting to get the hang of this. ;)

UPDATE 2: I'm back.

UPDATE 3: Heading out to some meetings. Be back later tonight.

UPDATE 4: Briefly back for more.

UPDATE 5: Bedtime . . .

Comments: 1821 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

TimVicious427 karma

I see you oppose several things that many redditors do... How do you feel about gay marriage? Why? How do you feel about marijuana legalization? Why? And lastly do you decide your stance by listening to citizens that you represent or are they ideas of your own?

justinamash536 karma

I am Eastern Orthodox Christian, and I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. I also believe that government should not define or redefine marriage. Marriage should be a private, religious institution and/or contractual. Government should be no more involved in sanctioning marriage, of any sort, than it should be involved in sanctioning baptism or communion.

The federal government should not criminalize marijuana. The issue should be left to the states. Any "threats to public safety" that result from marijuana use are best handled through the state criminal justice system.

The people elected me based on my principles, and I use my best judgment to analyze legislation based upon those principles.

catch1011082 karma

Marriage should be a private, religious institution and/or contractual. Government should be no more involved in sanctioning marriage, of any sort, than it should be involved in sanctioning baptism or communion.

But since government already is involved in the marriage business, do you feel the same rights should be afforded gay couples? Do you believe there is a secular legislative purpose in stopping two men or two women from entering into a marriage contract?

justinamash108 karma

This issue should be handled at the state level until we can move back to the concept of private marriage. Keep the federal government out.

TehNoff84 karma

While I appreciate this answer I still feel like you aren't getting to to the crux of the issue.

Do you believe it is morally, ethically, and/or Constitutionally justifiable to deny gay couples the rights and privileges of marriage afforded by the US Government to hetoro-sex couples?

justinamash181 karma

It is wrong for the federal government to provide special benefits to anyone on the basis of marriage, straight or gay.

nilloc_3141531 karma

What are you doing or planning to do then to get the federal government out of providing benefits for marriage?

It's disingenuous for you to state that you are against something, but not do something as a congressmen to try and fix it. Especially when current laws are already in place that provide such things and are doing so unequally. Doing nothing is supporting the current system, which is hypocritical because you just said it is wrong.

justinamash102 karma

I am always analyzing legislation, but I do lobby my conservative colleagues on this issue. I believe my position is the best conservative position: Get government out.

Stile4aly172 karma

You voted against the Paul Ryan budget because it didn't cut enough. While I appreciate that you believe the military should also be open to budget cuts, I can't understand why someone who is open to cutting spending on the most vulnerable Americans for the purposes of deficit reduction won't consider even the most modest tax increase on the wealthy for the same purpose.

Why is reducing WIC benefits a more worthy means of deficit reduction than increasing the tax burden on incomes over $250,000?

justinamash135 karma

Your premise is wrong, I do consider it. Of course, raising taxes on just the wealthy doesn't raise nearly enough revenue to put even a dent in the deficit.

moralnihilist148 karma

I live in your district so you're my representative. I disagree with you on a lot of things, but I still think you're one of the best Representatives in congress. Thank you for your commitment to transparency in government. We sure as hell need more of that regardless of policy.

My question: what surprised you the most about Congress and/or D.C. Culture in general? I've seen you comment on how corrupt it is on your Facebook page; so was it better or worse than you imagined it was before you got elected? What kind of opposition do you come across when you're building coalitions to fight these laws like the NDAA that seem to be popular with most of congress? I mean, when you go up to your fellow legislators, asking them to support something that would seemingly make sense, what do they say when they don't support you? What's their excuse?

Finally, I've seen a lot of arguments that seem convincing about how the NDAA doesn't actually authorize the President to indefinitely detain American Citizens like you and many others claim it does. I know Carl Levin at one time claimed it doesn't but also opposed your amendment claiming it was "soft on terrorists" or something (which is strange because if the NDAA doesn't allow it anyway, what's his problem?). At any rate, I've read the relevant section of the NDAA, and it seems like the argument goes like this.

Section 1031(b)(2) says that a "covered person" under the section includes:

"A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces."

As far as I know, the offending phrase is "substantially supported," which I agree is very ambiguous. However, 1031(e) says:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld specifically states that U.S. Citizens detained as enemy combatants still have the right to a trial before an impartial judge. Since this decision was made in 2004, this falls under "existing law" at the time of the bill's passing and therefore makes the entirety of Section 1031 non-applicable to U.S. Citizens.

What is your rebuttal to this?

A lighter question: What's your favorite Grand Rapids restaurant?

justinamash80 karma

There are Reps who will flat-out lie to get their way-it's far worse than I imagined. My colleagues often don't know the details of the bills, so I'm really battling against committees and bill sponsors. They'll resort to slander and lies when necessary. An uninformed colleague may have great intentions, but it's tough to trust a freshman over a committee chairman.

The Hamdi case provides for habeas, not full due process. In other words, no charge or trial.

I don't get a chance to eat out a lot in Grand Rapids, but I love The Chop House.

justinamash35 karma

And thank you so much for the compliments.

zergytime88 karma

Have you signed Grover Norquist's tax pledge? Either way, can you give your thoughts on the pledge and the danger of such third-party political contracts?

justinamash81 karma

Yes. It is a pledge to my constituents, not to Grover Norquist. The pledge does not prohibit tax increases on anyone; nor does it prohibit me from voting against tax cuts. It simply says that tax revenue to the government does not need to go up under static analysis (i.e., our real problem is spending). In other words, it is okay under the pledge to increase taxes on the wealthy and reduce taxes on the middle class. I oppose special tax breaks and subsidies that go to politically connected interests. If these special benefits were eliminated, certain large corporations and wealthy individuals would pay substantially more in taxes, but that alone would not violate the pledge.

I think it's best to sign as few pledges as possible to avoid unnecessary constraints. Just follow the Constitution and stick to your principles.

roccco5 karma

The pledge does not prohibit tax increases on anyone...it is okay under the pledge to increase taxes on the wealthy and reduce taxes on the middle class

Didn't you pledge to " oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses"? Isn't that different?

It simply says that tax revenue to the government does not need to go up under static analysis

I'm sorry to be so direct, but doesn't it, in fact, not say this in particular at any point?

Here's your pledge, Congressman (found at http://www.atr.org/userfiles/Congressional_pledge(1).pdf )

I, Justin Amash, pledge to the taxpayers of the Third district of the state of Michigan, and to the American people that I will:

ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and

TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

justinamash6 karma

Point one is widely viewed as being a prohibition on increasing AVERAGE marginal income tax rates.

Point two is precisely my point about not increasing overall tax revenue under static analysis.

Ent_Life77 karma

What is your stance on unions, public and private?

justinamash261 karma

I support people's right to join together to influence others. Government should not prohibit unions; nor should government pass special legislation to benefit unions at the expense of those who choose not to join.

Rachard1973 karma

Wow this is pretty cool of you to do, just wanted to thank you, I imagine you're quite busy.

Backgroud: I actually work for a company called Strategic Fundraising Inc., and we make calls for a lot of conservative organizations (RNC, Tea Party Patriots, NRCC, NRSC, various candidates, ect.). So often I talk to a lot of people who have some very.. interesting.. comments about our political system. I'm curious how a bigger fish in the pond would react to some of the questions/comments I've come across.

Few questions here;

-Do you get morally upset or disgruntled when fellow party members or outspoken conservatives bash our President? Or how do you feel about him?

-How do you feel about Mitt Romney running as the nominee? A lot of people I've talked to are quite upset about him, and I for one (although conservatively leaning) will most likely not vote for him.

-Do you, or others you work with, honestly believe Obama is not American (birth certificate and what not)?

-How did you get your start in politics at such a young age?

I guess lastly, a lot of the time I simply talk to people who have lost a lot of hope in our political system. Corruption gets thrown around in conversation so much, I'd think I was calling Mexico. People in our country seem more divided than ever, and the class/gender/partisan warfare only fuels this. How would you respond to these people, and what do you believe needs to happen to unify America once again as a world leading nation?

Thanks again!

justinamash114 karma

It's fair to criticize the President, but it's not fair for Republicans to blame everything on Democrats, especially with respect to the debt.

I'll take Mitt Romney over President Obama any day. No candidate is perfect.

I have no reason to believe that the President is not American. Others, of course, feel differently.

I ran for state House in Michigan because I got fed up with the two parties being so ALIKE in voting (even though they always bashed each other publicly).

A lot of the corruption and division is driven by party politics. We can free ourselves through the Internet.

nyintensity68 karma

Congressman Amash,

As a former Marine, and also a former government contractor, I witnessed what I would consider a lot of waste within the department of defense (civilian government employees essentially wasting tax dollars instead of working hard; the same for some contractors). Do you believe that the DoD budget is justified?

In business, leaders are rewarded for doing more with less, yet in the military, come the end of the fiscal year, you see financial officers rushing to spend every last penny, in order to ensure that their unit's budget doesn't get cut (or remain the same as the previous year). Do you think a system should be in place to prevent this behavior?

justinamash33 karma

Yes and yes. There's plenty of waste in DoD, and lack of oversight there is one of the reasons I voted against the House budget this year.

fieryseraph55 karma

In talking to other representatives about NDAA, SOPA, CISPA, Patriot Act, TSA - why do you think more of them don't oppose these things? They genuinely believe these things make us safer? They just don't understand the colossal downsides that come with things like this? Is it a generational thing maybe?

justinamash53 karma

Some of it is generational. Most of it stems from a lack of understanding of the issues. My staff is fantastic, and we independently research, review, and analyze everything.

Amaturus53 karma

Your thoughts on the debt ceiling debacle?

rbhindepmo52 karma

1) As a Congressman who is of half-Syrian American descent, do you think that there's something significant and realistic that can be done by this country (and/or any other country) in regards to the Syrian conflict/uprising and the Assad regime? Significant, not just the "Assad must step down" talk that 3/5ths of the Veto-wielding UNSC members mention every few weeks.

2) Seeing as we're about to experience a campaign season with the highest levels of spending in history, are you supportive or considering of any ideas to reign in (or adapt to) the realities of the Citizens United decision?

3) At the risk of getting you primaried in 2014, what is your favorite thing about President Obama?

justinamash118 karma

(1) The U.S. should avoid stepping in unless there is an imminent threat to our country.

(2) No. What about books and movies and other forms of "corporate" political spending? Should they be banned? Why a special exemption for certain media, then?

(3) President Obama throws a mean Christmas party. ;)

Iamreason40 karma

What do you think of the libertarian movement as well as congressman Paul and Governor Gary Johnson?

Do you think the republic party will survive losing this presidential election (at least in its current form)?

justinamash74 karma

I support Ron Paul for President, and I'm glad the Libertarian Party has qualified candidates like Gary Johnson. The libertarian-wing of the Republican Party is growing fast, and the establishment will have to accept us if the party is going to survive.

FiveChairs35 karma

What do you think about America's education system?

justinamash67 karma

There's far too much central/federal control. The more standardized everything is, the less our education system fosters creativity.

jjordan34 karma

Justin, first off, THANK YOU for tirelessly fighting for our rights when so many of your colleagues do not, and THANK YOU for sharing every vote you make, with explanation. I wish more of our Representatives would do this -- it would be great for openness and transparency.

To my question: 238 of our "Representatives" voted AGAINST your Smith-Amash Amendment that would have removed the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge, trial, or representation from the NDAA. How do we overcome "the Establishment" (for lack of a better term) that seems intent upon either ignoring or actively trampling the Constitution, and by extension our fundamental rights as Americans?

P.S. We hope you'll stop back every so often. FYI there's an entire sub-reddit dedicated to your service (/r/JustinAmash).

justinamash23 karma

Thanks! The Establishment can't win when the public knows the facts. The Internet is changing everything. Eventually, we will win. On the Smith-Amash Amendment, I worked hard to get facts to the public (and my colleagues). Every time I rebutted something, the House Armed Services Committee would come back with another false argument. Eventually, they had to settle on Justin Amash wants to reward al Qaeda for attacks and coddle terrorists. When that happened, they lost and we won, even if we didn't get the votes this time around.

goggimoggi27 karma

In your opinion what's the biggest specific threat, foreign or domestic, to our country right now?

justinamash40 karma

The biggest threat is our national debt. Our system will collapse if we don't get it under control. The next biggest threat is the government's ongoing erosion of our civil liberties.

[deleted]27 karma


justinamash50 karma

No. Some districts are poor. Some are very rich.

Stile4aly24 karma

You've offered support for a flat tax system. Most estimates I've seen suggest a tax rate in the 25% range. Why should the poor and middle class face a tax increase in order for the wealthy to benefit from a major tax cut? Given that the wealth control a disproportionate amount of the nation's wealth why shouldn't they pay a progressive rate?

justinamash23 karma

I've actually said that several systems are preferable to our current income tax code, which is filled with loopholes and special breaks that benefit the wealthy. There should be a safety net for the very poor.

TehNoff3 karma

Would you support a more simplified progressive tax system [for my purpose I simply mean more tax brackets than we have now, and many many fewer special breaks and loopholes?]

justinamash3 karma

Probably. I'd have to see all the details.

Houseofdon23 karma

Constituent here. How much work is it to post all the votes on Facebook? Do you think it is a legitimate "barrier to entry" for other members doing the same (as they often claim), or do they just want to avoid the scrutiny that goes along with it?

justinamash53 karma

It's a lot of work, but it's obviously possible if you have the right team behind you. After all, I'm simply doing what I'm supposed to do: analyzing legislation and figuring out how to vote. Posting to Facebook is the easy part. Reps say they can't do it mostly because they want to avoid the hard work of legislating and the scrutiny.

BrotherC22 karma

  1. Are you willing to change your stance on an issue if new arguments or evidence come to light, even if doing so is politically disadvantageous? What about your colleagues?

  2. As a non-religious American, polls indicate I have very little chance of ever holding elected office. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you represent those who hold different religious beliefs from your own?

  3. My understanding is that you believe marriage is a religious institution. If this is the case, why do you believe government should have a role in the institution of marriage? Some have proposed abolishing government involvement in marriage, regardless of your personal views, why do you think some may support or oppose this idea?

justinamash28 karma

(1) Yes. I know that most of my colleagues are not willing to do the same.

(2) I think that's true (for now). I don't impose my religious views through legislation, even though all of my views, including religious, certainly influence my principles and judgment (that's natural).

(3) Government should be no more involved in sanctioning marriage, of any sort, than it should be involved in sanctioning baptism or communion.

rvltnwllbtlvsd21 karma

Rep. Amash, who is one current member of the opposite party that you respect/admire the most?

justinamash29 karma

Jared Polis. He has been there as a friend from almost the beginning.

goggimoggi20 karma

What's your position on central banking vs. sound money and why?

boona10 karma

Stated differently, what are your thoughts on legal tender laws and allowing open competition between currencies?

(Sorry if I'm putting words in your mouth goggimoggi.)

What are your thoughts on anti-trust laws and how they've been applied to various cases in the past? What would you look to accomplish in the future?

A sincere thanks for opposing the legislation you mentioned in the title!

justinamash51 karma

Competing currencies--yes. Central banking--no. Why should one man (organization) control our money supply and set interest rates? What does he know?

Anti-trust laws--no. Monopolies are created by government. Get competition-killing regulations/laws out of the way and monopolies can't last.

ph71117 karma

Glad to see more Amish republicans.

justinamash26 karma


Vintagecoats16 karma

When you do not uphold the general Republican party line on significant issues coming up for a vote, how much metaphorical arm twisting and such is directed at you by Republican officials to push you towards voting how the overall party sees the issue?

justinamash30 karma

They're not worried about how I'll vote. They're worried that I'll influence others. Lately, the tactic has been to slander me on a few critical issues. I'm curiously unable to raise PAC money since the NDAA issue came up big in December. ;)

USGunner16 karma

give us a reason to believe the system isnt hopelessly corrupted beyond repair to the point where only revolution would fix it

justinamash56 karma

I'm here.

ral31516 karma

As a recent college graduate, I'm a bit pessimistic about the state of Social Security and Medicare by the time I reach retirement age. Do you support proposals to privatize these services?

justinamash29 karma

I support proposals to permit young people to opt-in to a new system that allows them to control their own savings.

cptstupendous14 karma

Are you here to establish a permanent presence on reddit with the intent of remaining accessible to the reddit audience or are you only here temporarily to gather support for whatever piece of legislation you are currently trying to push forward?

justinamash33 karma

I hope to do this on a recurring basis.

rbaix13 karma

What are your feelings on federal funding of public broadcasting? Planned Parenthood? NASA?

justinamash19 karma

Opposed. Opposed. Support.

spauken6 karma

How is NASA constitutional?

wshanahan11 karma

Because the constitution gives the right of the federal government to provide for national defense. NASA was originally about national defense. It provides for many things including intel and new technologies to further our defense.

justinamash14 karma

That's correct.

JayyyPee13 karma

Have any lobbyists approached you? Which ones? What were they asking from you?

justinamash37 karma

Yes. All of them. Money or special treatment. ;)

puppeteer10713 karma

What made you decide to be so open? Did you run on a platform of transparency or did you get elected then go for openess? What do your fellow congressfolk think of you explaining every vote? Is there any sort of tension that they're upset with you because you're raising the bar for what we expect out of our elected officials? And are there any other politicians that make their votes easily known that I could be following on FB or twitter?

I read an article about you and instantly followed you on FB even though I'm from WV. I don't agree with you politically on everything, but I'm glad you're taking the time to educate the country about what Congress is doing

justinamash31 karma

Thanks. I have nothing to lose. I'm not in this for the job. My goal is not to be in government but to completely revolutionize government. It causes tension with some of my colleagues but earns the respect of others. I hope others follow my lead, but it hasn't happened yet.

connocauseimcool12 karma

How did you feel about Obama wanting to absolve the tax breaks and subsidies on the oil companies a month or two back? Do you think or know if gas will go back below three dollars?

Thanks for doing this.

justinamash21 karma

I'm against special tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. I don't know what will happen to gas prices--a lot of factors are at play.

mmdonut12 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.

How many hours do you spend in the average week on fund raising? What are your thoughts on how to reduce the need for members of Congress to raise so much money in order to keep their jobs?

justinamash42 karma

Thanks. I have to spend at least a few hours/week fundraising. If Members of Congress said fewer stupid/outrageous things and were less partisan, they might not have to raise so much and could win support more easily from people in the other party.

lpj500111 karma

What are your feelings about online poker?

justinamash44 karma

It should not be illegal.

jbturreh6711 karma

Who are the Congressmen and women that you like working with and/or respect the most? What kind of committees are you on at the moment?

justinamash27 karma

With many of them I have big policy disagreements, but here are a few: John Boehner (surprised?), Paul Broun, Hansen Clarke, Jeff Flake, Chris Gibson, Trey Gowdy, Tim Huelskamp, Darrell Issa, Dennis Kucinich, Raul Labrador, Tom McClintock, Mick Mulvaney, Jerry Nadler, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, Jared Polis, Reid Ribble, Todd Rokita, Paul Ryan, Adam Smith, and Rob Woodall. And Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul in the Senate.

I'm on the Oversight Committee and the Budget Committee.

[deleted]9 karma


justinamash19 karma

I'll wait to see the legislation.

zBriGuy9 karma

  • How is your independent stance on issues treated by your fellow Republican lawmakers?

  • What kind of pressure do you feel from them to vote down party lines and how is it applied to you?

justinamash23 karma

Most of my colleagues are very respectful of our differences. It's the Reps in positions of influence who tend to be wary. They used to exert a lot more pressure, but now they mostly leave me alone to vote my conscience.

Moxiecrat9 karma

  1. Since their is so much confusion on the matter, please explain the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism as you see it.

  2. In your opinion how would America differ from today given the reality of a true free market society w/ regards to healthcare, war, social welfare and civil rights?

Thank you for your service.

justinamash33 karma

(1) Isolationism is the position of most Republicans (not my position). Don't talk to Iran. Don't visit Cuba. Noninterventionism holds that the U.S. should not militarily intervene in other countries unless we face imminent danger (my position).

(2) There would be more prosperity, equality, and happiness under a true free-market system. Our hybrid system causes free markets to be blamed for the ills of central planning.

dartmanx8 karma

A bit surprised to a see a "representative" with Tea Party backing on reddit...

How do you respond to the disdain in which many Americans hold their elected representatives?

justinamash20 karma

The public is right to have such low regard for Congress. But the problem is the culture in DC, not the particular people elected.

[deleted]7 karma


justinamash11 karma

I support term limits, but I agree that a thoughtful formula needs to be worked out to balance concerns.

throesawaythroesaway5 karma

Justin, who wins at arm wrestling, you or Jeff? My money is on Jeff.

Signed Mich Law Grad, 2007

justinamash5 karma

Jeff's got the weight advantage, so probably him. The last time I physically beat him was when he was a little kid and I stuffed him down the toilet.

(Jeff's my brother, in case anyone is wondering.)

broliath3 karma

What are your feelings on the amounts of money spent in politics?

Also; Where would you ideally live given anywhere on earth would be available to you?

Thanks for taking time to do this. appreciative, we are.

justinamash6 karma


I don't think there's a sound, constitutional way to take money out of politics, so we must live with it.

I would live in Walt Disney World, of course!

ElMayordomo3 karma

Is there a possibility that you will ever run for President?

justinamash6 karma

Anything is possible.

ayehli3 karma

Like many Americans, I've all but lost my faith in the governmental process as it's instituted. A number of our municipalities are exhibiting "police state" behaviors in the name of safety/security, our highest levels of government seem to be open to the highest bidder, and our elected officials regularly engage in after-office corruption at level we haven't openly seen since the days before the crash of '29.

Never in the history of America has it become so very, very obvious that the goals of the average lawmaker and the good of the common man or woman have little in common. We've always paid platitudes to the American Dream, as though every man, woman, and child can be Horatio Alger -- but we know that's not true. We know the deck is stacked from birth. The conservative platform often seems to be "I got mine, I don't owe society anything."

How do you feel about our responsibilities to our fellow men and women? How will you, as a reasonable, independent conservative, fight the degradation of the system? No sarcasm intended.

justinamash4 karma

I will stand up against tyranny, even if I have to stand alone at times. The NDAA fight proved that, I hope.