PENNFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. - Congress should have approved last week's missile strike against Syria but instead has skirted responsibility and continued "to pass the buck to someone else," U.S. Rep. Justin Amash said Tuesday.
"They prefer a situation where the president decides all this stuff," Amash, R-Cascade Township, said during his town hall in Pennfield Township. "Because if it works out, then they can say, 'I was with the president all along.' And if it doesn't work out, 'Can you believe that president sending us to war like that?'"
It was the second time Amash had spoken with constituents in the Battle Creek area this year. As one of few congressmen holding town halls at the time, his February event drew a large crowd of both supporters and opponents — and national news media.
Amash argued the airstrike was unconstitutional and did not meet the circumstances of the War Powers Resolution that would have allowed President Donald Trump to act without congressional approval.
The strike risked retaliation and the beginning of a major conflict, Amash said.
"We don’t want to send our young men and women off to die in war without knowing we have the backing of the American people," he said. "And when I vote to send people to war, I want to know that people at home are behind that action."
But while Amash said it's easy to criticize sitting presidents, he took aim at Congress, saying lawmakers have decided against taking a vote on use of military force and instead choosing to do nothing.
"They so often pass the buck onto someone else," he said. "In this case, it's the president. They did it to President Obama and they're doing it now to President Trump."
Amash has emerged as a leading critic of Trump within the Republican Party, once voicing concerns over his immigration ban and coming out against the GOP's proposed health care bill. Trump called for a fight against the Freedom Caucus, of which Amash is a member, during the 2018 midterm elections; Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, called Amash a "big liability" and encouraged someone to challenge him in a primary election.
Amash said the Republicans' bill did not fulfill a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. There were estimates that as many as 80 Republicans were prepared to vote against the legislation, he said.
"I think we need to start over," Amash said. "I think Republicans and Democrats should work together on this legislation, but the best way forward in my opinion is for the states to handle this issue."
© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved