The House barely squeaked by enough votes to pass the American Health Care Act Thursday. Among the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, was libertarian leaning Justin Amash. This came as a shock to libertarians, tea partiers, and liberty-minded conservatives alike as Amash has presented himself as a principled Republican voice in opposition to Donald Trump.
The Michigan congressman opposed the President’s immigration ban, stating “It’s not lawful to ban immigrants on the basis of nationality. If the president wants to change immigration law, he must work with Congress.” Trump’s director of social media also called Amash “a big liability”, via Twitter, who needs to be defeated in the 2018 primary.
The Representative made no comment before the vote expressing his opinion in favor or opposition. The only statement with any sort of hint at his decision was released by Rep. Mark Meadows announcing the support of the Freedom Caucus for the AHCA.
The new healthcare bill was not even close to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act with the largest change being that states can apply for a waiver to opt-out of the mandate to insure citizens with previous conditions. Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie announced earlier this week to vote against the bill because it did not go far enough.
Massie followed through on his promise and stated:
“By repealing a small number of Obamacare mandates, while leaving others in place, this bill runs the risk of destroying what remains of the individual health insurance market. The option in this bill that allows States to apply for waivers from some Obamacare mandates is well-intentioned. However, it falls far short of our promise to repeal Obamacare. There also remains the risk that State legislatures, like our federal legislature, are unable to withstand the political pressure from lobbyists who defend Obamacare, and the pressure from those who receive Obamacare’s welfare handouts.
This bill should have included measures that allow Americans to take charge of their own healthcare and get the government out of the way. These measures include allowing the deduction of health insurance costs from income taxes, giving everyone the ability to purchase insurance across state lines, and allowing individuals to band together through any organization to purchase insurance.
In weighing my vote, I heeded the wise advice that “one should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” If this bill becomes law, it could result in worse outcomes, fewer options, and higher prices for Kentuckians who seek health care. In summary, I voted against this bill not because it’s imperfect, but because it’s not good.”
Why did the two most libertarian members of the House split on this vote? It has been over 24 hours since the vote and no explanation has emerged. Amash’s appearance to submit to follow along with the rest of the Freedom Caucus is bitterly disappointing to those who look to him as an example of a principled politician.