VANCOUVER, Wash. – Jaime Herrera Beutler has spent a decade in Congress as a low-key moderate Republican who largely avoided heated partisan battles. That changed with Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.
The Washington state congresswoman was at the center of a debate Saturday in the Senate over whether the former president dismissed lawmakers' pleas for help when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Her statement late Friday asserting that Trump rebuffed a request from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., upended Trump's Senate trial and sparked a fight about calling Herrera Beutler as a witness. That outcome was avoided by a last-minute bargain between Democratic prosecutors and Trump's lawyers.
Herrera Beutler, 42, has not spent her career seeking that kind of attention.
She was first elected to Washington's 3rd Congressional District in 2010, emphasizing her humble roots and connecting with voters by describing how she and her husband were renters still saving money to purchase their first home.
As a state legislator, she defeated a much better known Democratic opponent to win the U.S. House seat that includes rural southwest Washington as well as the more liberal northern suburbs of Portland, Oregon.
The oldest of her three children, Abigail, was born prematurely in 2013 and without kidneys. Herrera Beutler has worked to help other families facing long-term medical crises and has pushed legislation to make child care more affordable.
Herrera Beutler, a Hispanic in a party that has struggled to win over Hispanic voters, was immediately seen as a rising Republican star in a state bereft of viable GOP candidates.