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U.S. Rep. Justin Amash talks civil discourse and health care

Justin Amash U.S. House of Representatives photo

U.S. Representative Justin Amash is home this week visiting Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District. He’s hosting a town hall meeting tonight in Battle Creek. Last night the Cascade Township republican held a public forum at Grand Rapid’s Ottawa Hills High School auditorium. Before the event began, WGVU sat down for a one-on-one interview with Congressman Amash discussing health care and how he approaches his constituents attending what have lately become heated town hall meetings.

U.S. Representative Justin Amash is the headliner of his town hall meetings. I asked him how he sets the tone when he walks out on the stage?

“I’m going to be respectful. I’m going to be calm. I can’t be sure that everyone will be but I’m hopeful that if I have a calm demeanor others will follow suit. I think it’s important that we have civil conversations. We’re not going to agree on everything. There are some people who are going to be upset with my position on health care. There are going to be others who are going to be upset that I am too critical of President Trump. So, you have to have these conversations in a civil way. That’s why we have this country so we can have these debates without fighting each other and I hope that continues.”

What issues will the Cascade Township republican lead off with?

“I’ll talk a little bit about what we’ve been doing over the past several weeks; appropriations, health care.”

Health care is one of those personal issues. The GOP health care plan was recently passed in the U.S. House. Rep. Amash called it a “tough” yes vote. I asked him what made it difficult to vote “yes?”

“Well, I think it’s a bill that’s widely disliked. People at home on both sides of the aisle don’t think it’s a good thing and I also think it has lots of problems. So, I was put in a position where I had to decide do I vote for something that is marginally better than the system we have now, when I in fact dislike both systems. I dislike the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and I dislike the AHCA (American Health Care Act). I think that they’re both going to fail and that made it very tough. Do you keep something in place because the other thing isn’t good enough? I’ve always believed in incrementalism. That we should vote for things that we think are improving the situation even if only slightly. But this is far from what I would call a good bill. It’s just marginally better than what we have today.”

What alterations does Amash expect coming out of the U.S Senate?

“I imagine they might add some more funding to the bill. It’s possible that they’ll change the way the tax credits work and maybe go back to something that is more similar to the ACA. But I would be surprised if they moved too far one way or the other because republicans only have a 52 seat majority and they can’t move it too far one way or the other without losing either the more leftward parts of the republican conference or the rightward part. So, they can’t move too far.”

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.