This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview with Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who represents Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Herrera Beutler answers the first four questions in Part 1.
Question 1: What are the most pressing issues you encounter with voters this Fall?
I think the number one thing is health safety, how to manage COVID and economic safety and security. I think it’s only intensifying. We’ve seen unemployment funds run out, and we’ve seen certain industries collapse and others are near collapse. In the next five weeks or so more companies will be out of business.
We are taking on the stimulus bill. I think we need additional stimulus to get through this. I’m part of a group in Congress called Problem Solvers with 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, and we’re pushing for this. We have to have something to help people. We’re not reopening really and much hasn’t changed on that front.
One of the challenges we’ve had is there are a lot of presidential politics in play, and it’s disheartening to me. Republicans and Democrats are both out of work. This group is still trying to put pressure on the House and the Senate. My sticking point is that we need unemployment benefits and more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money in there. A lot of the moderate Democrats have told Speaker Pelosi we need to put something positive on the table.
Question 2: What is the Problem Solvers Caucus?
It’s a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans who work in a bipartisan way to solve big problems, who seek compromise. There is a lot of bipartisan work happening in Congress, it just doesn’t get reported. The Problem Solvers Caucus has driven changes in the minority and majority in our push for compromise. I believe in free markets, and there are so many things that need to be done. We need to be willing to work together on things.
I do think there are a lot of good people still trying to address major issues in our country.
The Problem Solvers Caucus works under the rules of the majority who rule with brute force. It’s a team sport in the House. We have drafted ways to have the minority have more influence.
It takes 218 to pass any bill, and there are bills that have more than 218 votes, but if the Pelosi leadership team doesn’t like it they don’t allow it to go to the floor. I think the biggest thing is the pressure from our group is to keep the stimulus talks going. We had enough steam behind it to just not walk away. Because of the pressure Pelosi is still in those conversations with the Trump administration. We have the votes to pass the stimulus bill and they know it. It’s soft power.
Question 3: What are your top legislative priorities in the next Congress should you be re-elected?
First and foremost, we have to make sure we address the health and safety of people here, as well as economic safety. You have to empower the right leaders, like small businesses, into recovery. We need another COVID package. We did the CARES Act, and it needs additional support.
We have saved 95,000 jobs in the 3rd District because of the CARES Act, which I helped draft. Those figures come from the Small Business Administration (SBA). In my mind, that is stopping the bleeding. We also need put out the unemployment insurance. Carolyn (Long) promises to get rid of the Trump tax cuts, which I think is the wrong approach. Both housing and small businesses will lead our recovery. But, we have to be laser focused on growing jobs. In this pandemic, small businesses are looking for more assistance with PPP. Small businesses don’t want us to raise taxes. My opponent has promised to raise taxes by 20 percent.
Our hydrosystem has been a priority for me. We have to do something on health care. I am passionate about access to health care. This is part of our working economy. I understand it as a mother as I have a daughter who needed a kidney transplant. We have to replace the ACA because if you need real access it can really limit you. They need access to care. We have to fix that. We need to work on energy, health care, and a good tax and regulatory environment so that small businesses aren’t put on the back end.
We have to protect trade, as well. It was right to stand up for more fair trade practices.
Question 4: Why should citizens of this district re-elect you?
I grew up here, that’s part of why I’m a good fit. People here want us to be about solving problems. I know how to move legislation, such as the bill to protect the Columbia River salmon. I was informed that if we didn’t do something about this we would see whole salmon runs go extinct. We worked on this bill for a long time, and by the time we got to the House floor all GOP House members voted for it. I got the administration to sign it.
That’s what I’m good at. I’ve had my own challenges with the Trump administration, but I know because of how I operate I will be successful with any administration. Would Carolyn Long be able to work with the other party? You have to be able to work with people.
Part 2 addresses more issues, the life of a member of Congress, working with constituents, and navigating political personalities and strategies.
To learn more, visit www.votejaime.com