Southwest Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler bucked her party this week, joining the increasing number of Republicans who want to reopen parts of the federal government.
Herrera Beutler has voted in favor of three funding packages to reopen federal agencies.
On Wednesday, she was among eight Republican lawmakers who voted to reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS. And during multiple votes Thursday, she joined Democrats in voting to fund the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture.
It’s a reversal from her stance a week ago, when she voted against Democratic funding packages that did not include funding for a border wall.
“Ultimately, I want to see those government responsibilities fulfilled and I want to make sure people are getting paid,” said Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground. “It just seemed like the right step.”
Herrera Beutler still expresses support for a border wall and stronger immigration policy — measures President Trump has said are mandatory for him to sign any government funding package — but she says those efforts should not come at the expense of shutting down the government.
“I believe and will continue to vote in support of that physical border security,” she told OPB after Thursday’s vote. “But strategically, I don’t think it gets us there to shut everything else down.”
Oregon’s sole Republican congressman, Rep. Greg Walden, expressed similar sentiments last week when he broke with the party and voted to reopen parts of the government.
Herrera Beutler said she has heard from many constituents in southwest Washington who are affected by the shutdown. She told OPB she’s heard from FBI agents who say the shutdown could be impacting investigations in Washington state. She also went on to express frustration on behalf of the many furloughed employees who will be missing their first paycheck this week since the Dec. 22 shutdown.
“I don’t think anybody’s winning here,” she said. “And I think the government has failed.”
The shutdown neared the end of its third week on Thursday, with few signs Democrats and Republicans are any closer to a deal to reopen the federal government.