View Full Version : Reason Magazine: Justin Amash - The Last Honest Man in Washington

03-17-2016, 09:58 AM
The Last Honest Man in Congress

Rep. Justin Amash on Capitol Hill skullduggery, surveillance surprises, and how Donald Trump "could be very dangerous as president"

Matt Welch from the April 2016 issue

Since Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) first entered Congress in January 2011, there have been more than 3,500 roll call votes in the House of Representatives. Amash hasn't missed a single one.

When former Speaker of the House John Boehner—whom Amash helped push out of his leadership role last fall—used to preside over "pro forma" sessions during which most members were away from Washington, the libertarian-leaning congressman would always attend, just to make sure Boehner didn't try to sneak a voice-vote extension of the PATRIOT Act. "Trust but verify," the Michigan maverick would say, quoting Ronald Reagan's famous line about the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons negotiations. Yes, Amash speaks of his own party the way Reagan spoke of the Russkies.

There is ample reason for such a skeptical approach. In mid-December, President Barack Obama signed into law a hastily thrown together 2,242-page $1.8 trillion omnibus spending bill that didn't just make a mockery of prior Republican commitments to keep federal spending in check; it included a series of last-minute insertions, many of them anathema to fiscal responsibility and constitutional restraint. (See "What Is Congress Hiding?" page 18.) Among the non-debated provisions was the 100-page Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which drastically expanded the federal government's ability to scoop up Americans' digital information without a warrant. "I asked the chairman of Homeland Security whether the cyber bill was going to be included in the omnibus," Amash says, "and he didn't know." The congressman promptly authored a straight-up repeal.