Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler on Tuesday evening voted against a condemnation of President Donald Trump for tweets that critics are calling racist, despite saying she disagreed with the tweets.
Herrera Beutler’s two Democratic challengers Wednesday chastised the incumbent’s vote, arguing that the resolution was an opportunity to make a statement about Trump’s language.
“The president was wrong to tweet as he did this weekend, but I will not be voting for the resolution because it further contributes to our country’s racial division — the same thing the House Democrats accuse the president of doing,” Herrera Beutler wrote Tuesday in an email to the Vancouver Columbian.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that four congresswomen should “go back” to the “places from which they came.” He singled out Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — four Democratic congresswomen of color who have vocally opposed his policies.
Three of the four women were born in the United States, and all four are U.S. citizens.
House Resolution 489 condemned Trump for comments “that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.”
The resolution passed nearly along party lines, 240-187, except for four Republicans who voted in support.
“The president wrongly singled out four individual members of Congress who disagree with him politically, but this House Resolution is a political stunt suggesting that every person of color and new American was attacked,” Herrera Beutler said in her email.
Herrera Beutler is one of 43 women of color in the House of Representatives. She is the only one to vote against the resolution.
She said she would send the president a letter “explaining why I believe his language was harmful,” according to the Columbian.
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Peter Khalil, a Vancouver Democrat who is running against Herrera Beutler, told The Daily News Wednesday that Trump’s tweets were “personal” for him as the son of Egyptian immigrants.
“My parents came here for a better life. They came here for tolerance. They came to escape religious persecution. Our president seems to think that people like us — people of color, people descended from new immigrants — don’t have the right to question our government. I want to make it clear that we have an equal claim on all rights of citizenship here,” he said.
Herera Beutler should have voted to condemn the tweets, he said, because that would have sent a message that Washington’s 3rd Congressional District “is a place where all people can express their political views without fear of xenophobic retaliation.”
“His tweets weren’t directed at me, but they were directed at people like me,” he added. “I know its only very recently that somebody like me can be taken seriously in national politics. So this hurts. It hurts really badly.”
Carolyn Long, who announced earlier this month that she is challenging Herrera Beutler a second time, said Wednesday that “This divisiveness doesn’t solve problems. It’s not good for democracy. I was disappointed that members of Congress are being attacked for who they are.”
She said she was “troubled” that Herrera Beutler tweeted that “we can and must defend our ideas on how to improve our country without descending into divisive and demeaning language,” but then voted against the resolution condemning the language.
“That’s concerning to be getting mixed messages from a member of Congress,” Long said.
She took a longer pause than Khalil when asked if she thought the president’s tweets were racist.
“When you attack a person to the point that you’re saying they have to go back to their country and you’re doing it because of their race or ethnicity, you are making a comment about their race or ethnicity, which is by nature a racist comment,” she said.
Long said she would “absolutely” have voted for the resolution and called it “important,” but said she hopes Congress can now get back to the business of governing.