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Regional Interests

Northwest Republicans split on GOP vote to remove Cheney from US House leadership

Republican representatives from Oregon and Washington had mixed reactions to a rift in their party’s leadership over loyalty to former President Donald Trump. House Republicans voted Wednesday to recall Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as GOP conference chair.

A tally of all House member votes was not available Wednesday morning, but Oregon’s only Republican member of Congress signaled support for the ousting Tuesday without addressing Cheney directly. A spokesperson said Rep. Cliff Bentz planned to vote to install New York Rep. Elise Stefanik as the party’s No. 3 leader.

Bentz sent a written statement making the case for party unity before the next elections, echoing language used by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy this week. Bentz focused on Democratic foes, who he accuses of “turning our country upside down.”

“If we are to win back the House in 2022, the Republican Caucus must be unified, and we must focus on the real problems our country is facing,” Bentz wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind that Congresswoman Stefanik, with House Minority Leader McCarthy and Whip [Steve] Scalise, will look forward, not back,” he said.

Cheney broke with most House Republicans by refuting Trump’s false claims of election fraud, and by consistently criticizing the former president’s role in allegedly inciting a Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Shortly after the attack, Bentz joined a political effort to throw out presidential ballots from Pennsylvania.

Like Cheney, Southwest Washington’s Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler condemned Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection. While she hasn’t made it as central an issue as Cheney — who recently authored in opinion piece in The Washington Post warning her party against Trump — the Republican from Battle Ground is poised to break rank with Cheney again.

On Monday, she issued a one sentence statement through spokesperson Craig Wheeler: “Jaime will be voting to keep the House leadership in place.” Wheeler did not respond to follow-up questions.

Herrera Beutler won her sixth term in November, but her recent independent streak has already made this a remarkable stretch of her career. After voting to impeach Trump, she also nearly became a central witness in the Senate impeachment trial.

Republican groups in Southwest Washington have since cast Herrera Beutler as radioactive. The local GOP groups in Clark and Cowlitz counties have both called on her to resign, and announced support for three Republican challengers.

On Tuesday, one of those challengers, Joe Kent, a former CIA employee and Army Special Forces veteran, slammed the incumbent’s support for Cheney.

“(Herrera Beutler) and Cheney made it crystal clear that they support the failed, pre-Trump Establishment Republicans agenda,” Kent said in a prepared statement.

Washington’s two other Republican U.S. Representatives — Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside; and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane — haven’t said how they voted. OPB reached out Tuesday to both offices and, by late Wednesday morning, still hadn’t heard back.

Like Herrera Beutler and Cheney, Newhouse was among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. McMorris Rodgers was not.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, right, talks with County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick during an April 5, 2021 visit to Clark County. The visit was one of her first public appearances since voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Troy Brynelson /
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, right, talks with County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick during an April 5, 2021, visit to Clark County. The visit was one of her first public appearances since voting to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting