U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler on Election Night in Vancouver, Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler on Election Night in Vancouver, Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Molly Soloman / OPB

With a possible vote looming in Washington D.C. on a massive infrastructure bill, Southwest Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler on Wednesday said she won’t support it.

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In a statement, the Republican from Battle Ground, Washington, said the $1 trillion infrastructure package is too closely linked with an even bigger chunk of legislation backed by progressive Democrats.

Herrera Beutler said she wouldn’t vote for the first if that meant teeing up Democrats to pass the second, a $3.5 trillion package known as the Build Back Better Act. Herrera Beutler called the latter a “giant monstrosity.”

“(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and the far-left members of the Progressive Caucus are playing legislative games and are still using that smaller bill as leverage in order to also pass the most expensive piece of legislation in U.S. history,” Herrera Beutler told OPB in a statement.

The legislation, according to Democrats, would fund massive public investments in education, Medicare, child care and climate programs, among others, while raising taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. The plan reportedly landed at the House Budget Committee like a phone book, nearly 2,500 pages long.

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While Pelosi and President Joe Biden have said since June they planned for both bills to pass in lockstep, they’ve recently backed away from the latter as moderate Democrats have opposed it as too costly. Progressive Democrats have responded by saying it’s both – or neither.

A spokesperson for Herrera Beutler said she would have voted for the infrastructure package if it was a vote on that bill alone.

“She would seriously consider supporting the traditional infrastructure bill if the (second) bill was dead and buried,” said spokesperson Craig Wheeler.

Republican groups in Clark and Cowlitz counties – two of the largest voting bases for Herrera Beutler – said they welcomed Herrera Beutler’s statement.

Since her vote in January to impeach President Donald Trump, Herrera Beutler’s relationship with her district’s Republican organizations has been rocky. The Clark County Republican Party censured her in February.

“Here’s the thing, I agree with most of her votes. And I think a lot of Republicans would agree that she votes conservatively. It’s a few here and there that people have been disappointed on – the impeachment vote being the main one,” said Joel Mattila, the party chairman in Clark County.

Christy Tseu, chairwoman of the Cowlitz County Republican Party, said she was pleasantly surprised. Still, she said, the party will continue to “disown” Herrera Beutler.

“We will not give her money. We will not invite her to events. We won’t put up her signs,” Tseu said.

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