Most Americans agree that this country would benefit from more bipartisanship in Congress. The tense acrimony evident in recent years has been detrimental to the nation and has resulted in ineffective governing.
With Democrats taking control of the House in January, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, is in a better position to be effective than many members of her party. While critics complain that her voting record has represented sharp partisanship, Herrera Beutler actually has a solid history of working with Democrats.
According to The Lugar Center earlier this year, Herrera Beutler ranks 15th out of 438 House members in terms of bipartisanship, based upon sponsorship or co-sponsorship of bills. GovTrack.us also ranks her among the more bipartisan members of the House, and she has recently helped push through several bills that had support from members of both parties.
Looking ahead to Republicans being the minority for the first time in her five terms, Herrera Beutler told The Columbian: “I do think it’s probably going to take some people by surprise that they’re no longer just a brute force in the majority. But the way my team and I have operated, I expect us to continue to be able to get results.”
For the benefit of Southwest Washington, we wish her luck in that endeavor. But we also take issue with some of Herrera Beutler’s claims of bipartisanship and offer some suggestions that will benefit her constituents.
Preeminent is Congress’ deference to President Trump when the House was under Republican control. As convictions, guilty pleas and indictments pile up for those who have been close to the president or have been in his administration, Congress must assert its power as a coequal branch of government. It is essential for lawmakers to protect the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Herrera Beutler must vote to protect and support that investigation if given the opportunity. She also must join Democrats in calling for the release of the president’s tax returns, which might or might not provide details of Trump’s entanglement with Russian interests.
If the Mueller investigation is, indeed, a witch hunt — as Trump often claims without offering proof — then it must reach its conclusion and remove the lingering cloud that has tainted the presidency. If the president has been involved in unethical or illegal actions, then Republicans who have protected him will be viewed with scorn by history. Bipartisanship means putting country before party, and members of Congress must ensure that they are on the right side.
Secondly, Herrera Beutler’s persistent votes to overturn the Affordable Care Act while her party failed to provide alternatives belie her claims of bipartisanship. Until Republicans come up with a way to improve health care in this country, we shall defend the Affordable Care Act and will expect Herrera Beutler to, as well. When they present a better idea, we will gladly embrace it.
For more conservative members of the House, the next two years under Democratic control will be frustrating. Herrera Beutler always has demonstrated more pragmatism than her ideologically rigid compatriots, and that has served Southwest Washington well. We trust that she is sincere about a stated desire for bipartisanship and that it will make her an effective representative in the 116th Congress of the United States.