The Southwest Washington Republican says the process has not been transparent or impartial
As Congress continues to hold public impeachment hearings over allegations of a quid pro quo between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) held another telephone town hall with constituents, this time from her office in Washington, D.C.
Less than two minutes into the call the fifth-term congresswoman addressed the elephant in the room, noting that she would be happy to take calls about the impeachment inquiry, while also noting that she does not sit on the House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the inquiry.
Herrera Beutler does sit on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as well as the powerful House Appropriations Committee. She is also co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care.
“And within those assignments, I’ve been very busy moving forward some very positive legislative efforts that are going to help folks in our communities in Southwest Washington,” said Herrera Beutler.
Those efforts include holding a recent Veterans History Project meeting in Clark County, which is an effort spearheaded by the Library of Congress to chronicle the stories of World War II veterans.
Herrera Beutler noted that staff in her office had helped people in the 3rd Congressional District recoup over $1.2 million of money owed to them by the federal government.
“I recently helped a gentleman recover old family photos that was stuck in the US Postal Service mail,” said Herrera Beutler. “I helped a woman in receiving her passport so she could travel with her father.”
The congresswoman’s office number is (360) 695-6292, and she invited anyone struggling to get a Veterans Administration bill paid, or an IRS refund, or any other problem with the federal government, to give them a call.
“Think of me as your advocate and resource,” she said.
Herrera Beutler also noted her work in helping high school graduates find employment after school through the JOBS Act, as well as assisting with making sure Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classes are available. She has also co-sponsored bills to help reduce teenage suicide and study maternal mortality rates in the U.S.
After spending some time detailing her recent work in Washington, D.C., Herrera Beutler preemptively took the chance to share her views on the biggest news in the nation’s capital and across much of the country.
“My overall feeling on this is that nobody is above the law,” she began. “And there should be an investigation into the events and the circumstances surrounding the president’s call to the Ukrainian president. The allegations that President Trump coerced Ukraine to influence the 2020 elections are very serious, and they deserve a full, impartial investigation that is totally transparent to the American people. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening right now.”
The duty of an impeachment process, Herrera Beutler said, is one of the most serious responsibilities of the U.S. Congress, and could tear the nation apart if the American people feel that it is being carried out by one political party “simply to damage the other.”
Herrera Beutler said it’s her belief that Democrats have violated the process by holding secretive hearings in the basement of the capitol building, without even many of the Republican Intelligence Committee members allowed to be present.
“This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s the entire American public that are being excluded from this,” said Herrera Beutler. “For the first month, only a single Democratic committee chairman selectively leaked bits of testimony. And that’s the information that everybody thinks is public record.”
Even with public hearings now taking place, Herrera Beutler says much of the information being used to form the questions came from those secretive meetings over the past month-and-a-half.
“So the American public has no ability to judge the primary sources,” she said. “So we have some enormous differences between what’s happening now, and what was done the last two times we went through an impeachment process with both Nixon and Clinton.”
Herrera Beutler also noted that the impeachment is standing in the way of other work Congress should be doing ahead of the upcoming holiday recess.
“There are a lot of rank and file Republicans and Democrats here who are equally frustrated that, for example, there have been 56-plus subpoenas in the impeachment investigation, and there have been about 46 bills signed into law this year,” she said,
Interstate 5 Bridge
Herrera Beutler was also asked about the new project to replace the Interstate Bridge on I-5, and whether she supports the creation of a third crossing instead of a replacement bridge.
“I would support a third bridge but, as a federal representative, it’s still my responsibility to make sure that we get the bridge across the Columbia fixed,” she said. “I think a third bridge is a great option. I don’t know that I can pull down federal money for something that would essentially be more of a State Route.”
One area Herrera Beutler said she would not compromise is on the inclusion of light rail as part of a new bridge.
“We’ve had at least two opportunities to vote as a county up or down on whether we wanted a light rail system on that bridge or not,” she said, “and both times we voted ‘no.’ So that’s a pretty clear message to me, my people don’t want it.”
Herrera Beutler said that, instead, she would like to see a dedicated guideway for bus service over the new bridge, because it is far less expensive and more adaptable for future upgrades in technology.
“If we chose a light rail option, not only would it lock into place fixed rail in a growing and diversifying Vancouver, but by the time it opened, the technology of that rail would be nearly obsolete,” said Herrera Beutler, “yet we still have 30 years worth of loan payments to make on that obsolete technology.”