The Congressional “good standard” bar should be raised

bar-too-lowNot many elected officials explain to their constituents the reasons they vote a certain way on a given bill. Even fewer are those who will explain their vote on every bill! Justin Amash seems to be doing just that, posting on his facebook profile an explanation for his votes.

Most recently, he explained his reasons for voting “present” on a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline: “I voted present on H R 3, Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation. This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—and no other company—from laws that require pipeline owners and operators to obtain certain government permits and approvals.
I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for political reasons is wrong. It’s improper, however, for Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private project, while doing nothing to address the underlying problems that allowed such delays to occur.”
He goes on to say, “My commitment to my constituents when I took office was that I may vote present on legislation in three extremely rare circumstances (this is the 12th present vote out of nearly two thousand votes in Congress): (1) when I could otherwise support the legislation, but the legislation uses improper means to achieve its ends, e.g., singling out a specific person or group for special treatment; (2) when Representatives have not been given a reasonable amount of time to consider the legislation; or (3) when I have a conflict of interest, such as a personal or financial interest in the legislation—a circumstance that hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate happening.
H R 3 uses improper means to accomplish its laudable goal by singling out TransCanada Corporation and its Keystone XL pipeline for special treatment.”

Nick Gillespie of Reason.com says that Amash should be cloned, adding “If we can’t yet clone him, here’s hoping we can at least clone his commitment to principle, communication with voters, and simple courage to follow through on his campaign promises.”

While I agree with the sentiment behind Gillespie’s statement, I would like to see a more libertarian Congressman with similar qualities to be the pinnacle that others should strive to emulate. How, you may ask, can I disagree with one of the most libertarian member of Congress?

Quite simply, while Amash is arguably the most libertarian member of the US House that’s not a very high bar. According to On The Issues, Justin Amash is a 40/80 conservative on the Nolan Chart, which places him outside of the libertarian quadrant of the chart. Two of my biggest objections to Amash is his support for “securing the border” and punishing people who cross the border without first jumping through the legislative hoops and hurdles that are costly, time consuming and overly burdensome, without proposing legislation to ease or reduce the burdens. He is also an advocate for a balanced budget amendment that John Tammy of Forbes explains, “would legalize massive government as far as the eye can see.” Incidentally, Amash has never introduced legislation to actually reduce federal spending.

Despite my objections to some of Amash’s positions, I applaud Justin Amash for publicly stating his reasons for voting the way he does, and I would like to see more elected representatives follow suit. I just he were actually a libertarian.

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