Newly independent Rep. Justin Amash has formally left the GOP conference and resigned from the House Oversight Committee, according to a letter he sent to Republican leaders on Monday.
“Please accept this letter as formal notification that I am withdrawing my membership in the House Republican Conference, effective immediately, for the reasons outlined in my accompanying op-ed,” the Michigan lawmaker wrote.
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Amash, who announced his departure from the party in a scathing Washington Post op-ed on July 4th, would have automatically lost his committee seat once he was removed from the GOP conference, which was expected to happen anyway this week. The Steering Committee will make a recommendation about who should fill the vacancy.
Amash, who became the lone Republican to call for President Trump’s impeachment in May, confirmed over the weekend that he will no longer caucus with the House GOP and acknowledged that his seat on the House Oversight Committee will likely be in jeopardy.
It will be up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to decide whether to put him back on any committees. Senior Democrats say there are no discussions at this point about offering him a seat, but they will likely talk about it later this week.
Amash still plans to run as an independent to represent his Grand Rapids-area district, where he would have faced at least four primary challengers who were eager to pounce on Amash for his act of defiance against Trump and the party. His decision to leave the GOP, which Amash said he was considering even before former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released, now clears the way for the House GOP’s campaign arm to get involved in the Republican primary.
Amash has not been a big fundraiser during past election cycles, and it’s unclear what kind of money he can raise now as an independent. And he will need to do that in order to hold onto his seat in the Republican-leaning district, where he will face a tough road running as an independent.
As of June 30, Amash only had $133,000 in his campaign bank account, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. While his national profile has soared — which should help boost his ability to rake in funds — he’s also likely to face new primary challengers from the right as well.
Amash, now the only independent lawmaker in the House, has also not ruled out a presidential bid against Trump in 2020, which could potentially siphon away votes from Trump in Michigan — a swing state critical to the president’s reelection bid.
Amash has long been a lone wolf in the GOP. The 39-year-old former lawyer rode the 2010 tea party wave to Congress, where the libertarian and fiscal conservative has built a political brand as being a thorn in the side of leadership. He even once lost a coveted seat on the House Budget Committee for bucking Republicans.
But Amash’s call to impeach Trump was a bridge too far for many of his GOP colleagues. Amash ended up quitting the House Freedom Caucus, a group he helped found, after members of the hard-line group condemned him in May.
Amash, however, has long been frustrated that the Republican conference has been moving in lockstep with Trump, even on positions once anathema to the GOP, such as supporting executive orders to shape immigration policy or legislation that adds to the ballooning federal deficit.
“Over the years, I’ve seen that people are just falling in line behind the leaders, including people in my own caucus, which I left,” the five-term Michigan lawmaker told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “So it has gotten worse and worse and I think this was the term that really broke it for me.”