GOP lawmaker tied to surprise call for witnesses in Trump impeachment trial has broken with party before
Posted February 13, 2021 2:35 p.m. EST
CNN — The Republican congresswoman who triggered a surprise call for witnesses in the waning hours of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial has logged a decade in Congress -- at times breaking from her party and standing up to Trump.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state on Saturday was at the center of House impeachment managers' push to call witnesses in the Senate proceedings, following revelations that she had kept "copious notes" about a call between Trump and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on the day of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation had confirmed to CNN that Trump commented the would-be insurrectionists cared more about the election results than McCarthy. The House managers and Trump's legal team ultimately agreed to insert a statement from the congresswoman into the trial record, rather than pushing for a deposition.
Despite causing a stir in Saturday's proceedings, the moderate Republican congresswoman has kept a relatively low profile during her time on Capitol Hill.
Herrera Beutler has served Washington's 3rd Congressional District since 2011 and has held onto her seat for the past decade, being reelected to a sixth term in 2020. She worked as a staffer for Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and she also served in Washington's state House for about three years before being elected to Congress at the age of 31.
As a young mother and one of the few women in the Republican conference -- and one of the even fewer Republican women of color in Congress -- Herrera Beutler has championed maternal care and children health care issues and co-founded the Maternity Care Caucus, focused on pushing legislation to help mothers.
She sponsored two pieces of legislation -- both signed into law -- to prevent maternal mortalities and provide children with "medically complex" conditions on Medicaid with improved access to care and treatments. Another measure she backed required the Transportation Security Administration to better accommodate parents traveling with breast milk and feeding equipment.
Shortly after her reelection in 2012 to a second term in Congress, Herrera Beutler announced she was pregnant with her first child, who had been diagnosed with a fatal condition. Her daughter Abigail was the first baby to survive childbirth with no kidneys.
Though Herrera Beutler had largely voted in line with Trump's priorities, she did occasionally break with the former President and the GOP.
In 2017, despite supporting the repeal of Obamacare, she opposed the Republican's health care bill because, she said, the "difficulties this bill would create for millions of children" who rely on Medicaid for health care "were left unaddressed."
She was one of 13 House Republicans who rebuked Trump's declaration in 2019 of a national emergency to build his border wall, according to Roll Call.
And in 2016 she publicly denounced Trump over lewd comments revealed in the infamous "Access Hollywood" video and said she would instead write in former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Still, she told the Seattle Times that she would support Trump in 2020, citing his tax cuts and other economic policies.
Just a week after the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill, Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. The congresswoman faced backlash in her home state for her vote.
On Saturday, Democratic senators along with five Republicans voted to allow witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial, with the House impeachment managers seeking to call Herrera Beutler as a witness.
But shortly after, the Senate reversed course, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, read Herrera Beutler's statement into the trial record.