In the aftermath of his tweets referring to the Mueller report as evidence for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., has been called a "total lightweight" and "loser" by the president and will now have a Republican primary challenger.
When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked about Amash’s principal conclusions on the Mueller report on Fox News, he attempted to distance himself and the Republican Party from the Michigan representative. And McCarthy made a statement about Amash that caught our attention:
"He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever does with me."
In an age of polarization — when rank and file members rarely deviate from their party leaders — we wondered if a Republican representative who breaks from the party still votes consistently with it.
We used ProPublica’s Represent app to find out. (We also reached out to McCarthy's office but didn't receive a response.)
ProPublica tracks every House and Senate member’s voting record and has a feature that enables users to compare representatives head to head. The database extends from the 112th to the current Congress, so we were able to compare Amash and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Amash and McCarthy, for nearly the past decade.
"Out of 220 votes in the 116th Congress, they have disagreed on 76 votes, including 3 major votes," the ProPublica article reads.
However, the same comparison can’t be made between Amash and Pelosi for this session, because Pelosi is speaker of the House, said Derek Willis, news applications developer at ProPublica. In fact, ProPublica doesn’t even have a page to compare Pelosi to any other House representative in the 116th Congress because she has missed nearly nine in 10 votes.
It’s not that Pelosi has been AWOL. Rather, there’s a tradition that speakers of the House do not typically vote. (Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, referred us to this precedent when we asked about it.) Richard E. Cohen, chief author of The Almanac of American Politics, said that there have been "occasional exceptions" to this informal rule, but that most speakers don’t regularly vote.
"On the other hand, Pelosi — like most speakers — almost always supports the legislative agenda of her party, at least rhetorically," Cohen said. "So, it’s possible to match up many of Amash’s votes with Pelosi’s informal views. Even from that perspective, Amash often — but certainly not always — sides with the views of McCarthy and most Republicans."
Still, we were able to compare Amash to McCarthy and Pelosi using past voting records, when Pelosi wasn’t House speaker. We found that Amash has voted with McCarthy more than Pelosi for every term he has been in office.
For example, in the last Congress, Amash voted with McCarthy 65% of the time and with Pelosi 29% of the time.
McCarthy said that Amash votes more frequently with Pelosi rather than himself. But Amash has voted more frequently with McCarthy than Pelosi for every session Amash has been in Congress. We rate this statement False.
Fox News, Rep. McCarthy says USMCA would pass in the House, May 19, 2019
Justin Amash, tweet, May 18, 2019
Donald Trump, tweet, May 19, 2019
Email exchange with Derek Willis, news applications developer at ProPublica, May 31, 2019
Email exchange with Richard E. Cohen, Chief author of The Almanac of American Politics, May 31, 2019
Email exchange with Drew Hammill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff, May 31, 2019
Washington Post, Justin Amash, tea party star, earns primary challenge for backing impeachment, May 20, 2019
PolitiFact, What counts as a high crime or misdemeanor for impeachment? Justin Amash got it right, May 29, 2019
ProPublica, Justin Amash (R-Mich), May 31, 2019
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