A suggestion floated during a PBS news program may have helped break the federal budget impasse Friday, Rep. George Nethercutt said.
Appearing with four other freshman House members on “The News hour with Jim Lehrer” on Thursday evening, Nethercutt, R-Wash., offered an idea he thought had merit.
Why not pass a continuing resolution - a temporary spending measure - that takes effect if President Clinton proposes the type of balanced budget that Republicans are demanding?
“I’d just come up with it, about 30 or 40 minutes before the show, and bounced it off the people in the office,” Nethercutt said later.
The Republican House members went from the television studio to a caucus meeting, where Nethercutt asked House Speaker Newt Gingrich if he had seen the show.
Gingrich said he liked the idea, and asked Nethercutt to talk it over with other GOP leaders.
They made some minor modifications, such as cutting off the money on Jan. 26 rather than mid-March as Nethercutt suggested. Then they presented it and another proposal to the Republican caucus as a package.
The first proposal sends federal employees back to work, and pays their wages since the partial shutdown began on Dec. 16. It passed the House overwhelmingly on Friday.
But without money to run the government, some workers would have nothing to do.
That’s where the second proposal, similar to Nethercutt’s idea, comes in. All federal agencies would reopen and receive funding. But only when Clinton submits a budget that balances over seven years, using economic figures from the Congressional Budget Office.
“If the president will do that, put it down in writing … we’ll have something to discuss,” Nethercutt said.