Return to full duties on hold until baby can leave hospital
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who has spent the past several weeks by her newborn daughter’s hospital bedside, will return to Capitol Hill next week to vote on whether the U.S. should use military force in Syria, she announced Thursday.
It’s unknown how the Camas Republican plans to vote when it comes to Syria. Earlier this week, she said through her spokesman that she’s skeptical about launching a U.S. military strike on Syria. She also said she’s willing to listen to the arguments being made in favor of military action.
President Barack Obama is asking Congress to authorize a strike in light of Syria allegedly using chemical weapons against its own citizens.
Much of Herrera Beutler’s congressional duties were put on hold in July, when she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Abigail. The baby was born about three months early and without functioning kidneys.
Once Congress comes back on Monday from its summer recess, Herrera Beutler said she will remain in the California hospital with her daughter and only travel to Washington, D.C., for critical votes. Once her daughter is healthy enough to go home, Herrera Beutler will resume her full congressional duties, she said.
“We hope to come home with Abigail as soon as possible, but the truth is we don’t know precisely when that will be,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement.
Herrera Beutler announced that she will resume conversations with her constituents as early as next week, when she will start a series of telephone conference calls with 3rd District residents. Herrera Beutler didn’t attend any events in her district during the August break because of her daughter’s health problems.
“We are going to do our best to offer a telephone town hall to every resident of the district we have a phone number for,” Herrera Beutler’s spokesman, Casey Bowman, said by email Thursday. “They will receive a phone alert from our office.”
Constituents can make sure Herrera Beutler has their phone number by signing up on her official website, http://jaimehb.house.gov/contact.
Herrera Beutler also said Thursday that her daughter’s health continues to improve.
“I’m pleased to report that her doctors are happy with her progress and optimistic about her future,” she said. She added that she and her husband, Daniel Beutler, are learning how to care for their daughter’s health challenges.
Before Abigail’s birth, the baby was diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome, a condition previously considered fatal. Typically, a baby with that type of Potter’s Syndrome is born without functioning kidneys or lungs, but Herrera Beutler underwent an experimental treatment that allowed Abigail’s lungs to develop.
The baby is now undergoing dialysis treatments at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California, and she will eventually need a kidney transplant.
Herrera Beutler said she wants Southwest Washington residents to continue to reach out to her office if they need assistance.
“My staff and I will continue to work as a team to assist anyone from the 3rd District facing a problem with federal laws or agencies,” she said.
Through her spokesman, Herrera Beutler declined an interview with The Columbian.
Stevie Mathieu: 360-
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