Herrera Beutler on House GOP: ‘It’s time for my colleagues to face reality’

Congresswoman calls for spending plan, debt limit bills that don't attack health reform

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor



As the federal government shutdown entered its third week, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said Tuesday that it’s time for her Republican colleagues in the House to face reality and support a spending plan that doesn’t fight the 2010 health care reforms.

In a statement, the Camas Republican called attacks on the Affordable Care Act a poison pill that’s preventing Congress from reopening the federal government. Until Tuesday, she was mum on the House GOP’s budget negotiations, saying she wanted to give her leadership time to craft a solution.

“If this shutdown lasts much longer, negative impacts could be widespread,” Herrera Beutler said, noting the potential impact to veterans’ benefits, food assistance for low-income women and children, and permits for professional crabbers and fishers.

“In Longview, people who are critically injured must now wait for life flights to come from Oregon,” Herrera Beutler said, because “the local hospital’s helicopter can’t get (Federal Aviation Administration) certification during a shutdown. I can’t stand by and let this happen any longer.”

Herrera Beutler said she still opposes President Barack Obama’s health care reforms. “But this president will not bend or compromise on this issue even if the shutdown lasts until the end of his term, and this continued fighting is making it less likely that we can make progress on the issue, or on improving our economy or lowering our debt,” she said.

She added: “Like it or not, the White House and Senate have blocked House efforts to address the issues with the Affordable Care Act. Nothing positive will be achieved by prolonging this shutdown any longer, or crossing the debt limit threshold. It’s time for my colleagues to face reality.”

Prior to the shutdown, Herrera Beutler said she supported a federal spending plan that would defund 2010 health care reforms. On the eve of the shutdown, she voted for a House GOP plan to keep the government running while also making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the Senate, as promised, rejected that proposal.

Herrera Beutler has pledged to donate the congressional salary she receives during the shutdown to Vancouver-based Shared Hope International, an organization that works to fight human trafficking. Members of Congress and some federal employees continue to work and get paid during the shutdown, but several hundred thousand federal workers have been furloughed.