A prominent member of the House GOP leadership is calling for Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) to be stripped of his committee assignments and removed from the Republican caucus after the libertarian “gadfly” announced his decision to become an independent.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), the vice chair of the House Republican Conference, made the comments on social media Thursday, shortly after Amash penned an op-ed in the Washington Post announcing his departure from the GOP.
“Amash left the Freedom Caucus now he’s leaving the GOP. The House GOP never left Justin Amash – we simply ran out of space for his ego,” Walker said. “However, we should make sure he leaves Conference and his committee”:
Amash left the @freedomcaucus now he’s leaving the @GOP. The @HouseGOP never left @justinamash – we simply ran out of space for his ego. However, we should make sure he leaves Conference and his committee.
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) July 4, 2019
Amash currently sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has investigative purview over governmental activities. For him to be removed from the House Republican Steering Committee, the committee would need to initiate a vote, much as it did in January when it ousted Rep. Steve King (R-IA) from his committee assignments after he used language some deemed offensive. Walker holds a seat on the committee, along with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and several other high-ranking House Republicans.
Even prior to leaving the GOP, Amash was something of a pariah within the House Republican Conference because of his obstructionist tactics regarding federal spending. In 2017, he was one of only three Republicans to vote against an emergency funding package to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey. Amash also opposed border security efforts, as witnessed by his being the only Republican to vote against a resolution honoring the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year.
Despite Amash’s ideological rigidness, the Michigan congressman has been most noted for his opposition to President Donald Trump. During the 2016 Republican primaries, Amash was a fierce critic of Trump from both a personal and political perspective. When Trump won, Amash remained hostile even as the president led on issues the two men had in common, such as tax cuts and criminal justice reform.
The opposition came to a boil in May when Amash became the first Republican member of Congress to accuse the president of committing “impeachable conduct.” Amash reportedly determined that Trump should be impeached for obstruction of justice after reading a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.
That stand, although applauded by some on the left as brave, only made Amash vulnerable with the conservative grassroots. Shortly after coming out in favor of impeachment, Amash drew several high-profile primary challengers. A poll released exclusively to Breitbart News on Wednesday showed the libertarian “gadfly” trailing one of his pro-Trump opponents by double digits.
Amash did not address any of this in the op-ed announcing his decision to leave the Republican Party. Instead, he claimed to be compelled by the two-party system’s partisanship, which he claimed only served to “divide and dehumanize us.”
“Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party,” Amash wrote on Thursday. “No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system. … If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”
“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 added. “In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it.”
In response, the president celebrated Amash’s departure, saying the congressman was “a total loser” who knew he could not win the Republican nomination again if he tried.