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Nethercutt Stands Firm On Fed Budget

Rep. George Nethercutt is not quite as pessimistic as his party leader that a budget deal won’t be reached, but his optimism has waned this week.

“If the freshmen are being vilified a little bit in the press, that’s because we feel we have a mission, to balance the budget,” Nethercutt told a breakfast gathering of the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who campaigned in Seattle Wednesday for Nethercutt and other Washington state Republicans, said the breakdown in budget talks could mean no agreement will be reached before

the November elections.

Nethercutt said the break may provide a cooling off period that will help both sides. But Republicans aren’t likely to make further reductions in tax cuts, he said.

“The capital gains tax cut won’t be compromised,” he said.

As the Spokane Republican addressed some 300 people inside the Ridpath Hotel, about 15 protesters gathered outside to criticize his votes on environmental and social issues.

The group waved placards with such messages as “Salvage is a Hoax” and “Honk if you Love Forests,” which generated an occasional horn blast from a passing car or a thumbs up from a cyclist. Many of the people entering the hotel for the breakfast, however, refused to take the leaflets the group was offering.

Samantha Mace of the Inland Empire Public Lands Council said her group disagrees with Nethercutt’s votes to change the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Group members have been frustrated in their meetings with the freshman congressman.

“Congressman Nethercutt is polite, he will listen, but he won’t do anything,” Mace said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo