Despite a cacophony of far-right voices calling for U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s resignation from Congress and questioning her conservatism, she is steadfast in her campaign to hold the seat.
Herrera Beutler has a slew of monikers assigned to her: Republican In Name Only, Country Club Republican or supporter of “the establishment.” Despite how such opponents perceive her, the incumbent is sure of her Republican roots, regardless of how it’s slanted.
“I’m the same conservative (and) always have been,” she said in an interview with The Columbian. “Many of the things that are traditionally Republican ideals I still uphold.”
Herrera Beutler opposed tax increases, supports free market economies and prioritizes bills that fund law enforcement, she said.
Conversely, conservative challengers criticize her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. This decision provoked them to run for Congress themselves, as they saw the move as a treasonous endeavor that went against the Republican Party and its leader.
Herrera Beutler continues to defend her vote, saying it was intertwined with her convictions of “upholding the truth,” she said. The congresswoman keeps a dog-eared pocket Constitution in her purse if someone questions the validity of her vote and points to her track record in Congress as an indication of her advocacy.
Despite the criticisms, Herrera Beutler has maintained support and has the lead in campaign finances with $2.26 million total, according to the Federal Election Commission.
“I think the election is going to come down to (the question): Do I do this job well or not? I feel good about my chances based on that,” Herrera Beutler said.
Experience in Congress applied to future priorities
The incumbent, 43, has kept her seat in Congress since her win in 2010, flipping the region from its previous Democratic hold. She is currently assigned to the Joint Economic Committee and House Appropriations Committee.
When Herrera Beutler initially began her political career, the country was facing economic hardship — something familiar to constituents more than a decade later. As a member of the economic committee, she said her top priority is to address America’s economy as inflation continues to increase by minimizing government spending while addressing the lack of affordable housing.
There must also be measures taken to strengthen the region’s fishing and agricultural industries, as well as provide tax relief for small businesses, she said. Herrera Beutler has supported tax cuts for Washingtonians, sustaining regional hydropower and increasing hatchery funding. Southwest Washington’s forests, rivers and other natural resources can be managed and sourced for energy while also being environmentally conscious, she said.
“We’re paying more but we’re not producing more,” Herrera Beutler said, “and that prosperity isn’t being felt all the way around.”
Herrera Beutler continues to be outspoken and vehemently opposed to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s tolling initiative to pay for improvement projects, as the move unfairly impacts Washington residents who use the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 bridges to commute to work, she said.
She stressed the need to replace the I-5 Bridge, a major artery of interstate commerce, which she believes she is in the right position to do. She foresees Republicans capturing the House in this year’s midterm election, and she said she would advocate for transportation funding to support the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. First, though, she wants to see a plan.
“If you show me a plan that meets the needs of the people in this region,” Herrera Beutler said, “I will go to bat for federal money.”
Southern border security continues to be a focal talking point among conservative candidates for Congress — Herrera Beutler included. The topic may befuddle Southwest Washington constituents as they look at the state’s geography in relation to the southern border, yet the congresswoman argued that “lax border policy” exacerbates crime, drug use and homelessness in some situations.
Moving forward, Herrera Beutler says there must be greater investment in law enforcement in addition to rehabilitation programs to improve community safety.