Rep. George Nethercutt may take part this weekend in something that’s been rare in the Capitol recently: a civil discussion of the budget.
Pausing between votes on budget measures Friday, Nethercutt said he hoped to be part of a group of Republicans and Democrats that takes the House floor to point out common ground on a seven-year plan to balance the budget.
“Everybody’s yelling and screaming. It serves no purpose,” the Spokane GOP freshman said. “We’re not that far apart.”
He predicted a plan by next week would give Republicans what they want - a way to balance the budget in seven years - with an accounting system President Clinton could accept.
Nethercutt and Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, said they were receiving strong support from their constituents. A Chenoweth spokeswoman added there were few complaints about the partial shutdown.
“It seems like no one’s really noticing,” said Khris Bershers.
Across the Capitol, Republican Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho signed a letter saying the Senate should not quit for Thanksgiving as long as the federal government is partially shut down. Craig also said Congress should be paid during the budget impasse.
Those angry with the GOP budget apparently are more likely to contact Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. Her phone calls and e-mail were about evenly divided between “join the Republicans” and the “stop this bill,” she said.
Murray and other Democrats held a news conference to denounce the Balanced Budget Act for including everything from a major overhaul of farm programs to oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Clinton has promised to veto that bill, and a temporary spending measure to return the federal government to full strength until Dec. 5. Those vetoes could pave the way for the plan Nethercutt hopes to discuss.