Dozens turned away from Rep. Amash’s town hall

Around one hundred gathered around the doors to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in the freezing rain last Tuesday, Jan.17, waiting to hear if they would be allowed inside.

They had come to participate in U.S. Rep. Justin Amash’s town hall meeting, open to residents of Amash’s third congressional district, which covers Calhoun, Barry, Ionia and most of Kent County, including Grand Rapids.

Fifteen minutes before the town hall was set to begin, security stopped allowing people inside. Twenty minutes later, Rep. Amash came outside to say he believed it was “a fire code issue.”

One member of the crowd shouted, “Can you do it out here?” Amash apologized and encouraged the sizable crowd that had gathered to attend his next town hall meeting.

He went back inside, and a security guard shut and locked the doors to the museum before walking away.

According to security staff, the museum auditorium’s capacity is 252.

Staff from Amash’s office said that the auditorium at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum is one of the largest spaces they have ever used for a town hall. They also said Amash’s regular town halls have never run out of space before, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Inside the town hall, Amash explained his recent “no” votes on the latest bills, emphasizing his issues with the “shameful” recent budget bill, which will, according to Amash, increase the U.S. debt by $9 trillion over the next ten years.

When Amash tried to assure constituents that the recent budget that was passed was not an Obamacare repeal, the audience pushed back and demanded that Amash call it the ACA, citing the problem that many citizens don’t understand that the ACA and Obamacare are the same act. After several tense back-and-forths, Amash finally conceded and called it the ACA for the rest of the night.

Asked about the ACA repeal, Amash said he supports repealing the ACA, but under a system where the repeal would only come into effect for each state once that state had come up with a replacement. He argued that as different states come up with different innovative systems for replacing the ACA, the best methods will “rise to the top,” and eventually be adopted by all states.

Amash, a Republican, also decried the partisan divide and the us-against-them mentalities that both parties have taken up.

For his part, Amash has always been willing to go against his own party if he feels a bill violates his principles, which are to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

And Amash has been a vocal critic of President-elect Trump. Amash said he held President Obama accountable and plans to hold President-elect Trump just as accountable, and criticized his fellow Republicans for not doing enough to join him in holding Trump accountable.

When asked by a constituent how he plans to deal with Trump, he said “Have you seen my tweets?” Amash was referring to his active Twitter account in which he recently called Trump out for criticizing Rep. John Lewis by saying “Dude, just stop.”

Later that evening, Amash used that Twitter account to thank his constituents and to say, “We may need to rent an arena next time!”