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Region’s lawmakers vote no on stimulus plan

Inland Northwest members of the U.S. House voted against the proposed stimulus package Wednesday, saying it would spend too much on pet government programs and too little to help the economy.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers applauded President Barack Obama for trying to work with House Republicans on the package, but like all members of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill.

“Too much of this package is focused on borrowing and spending and the same old Washington approach that only adds to big government programs and spends more money,” the Eastern Washington congresswoman said.

The plan should offer more tax cuts for small businesses to stimulate the economy, she said.

U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, of Idaho, was among a few Democrats who voted against the proposal. He also said it was loaded like a Christmas tree with projects that should get a full hearing before receiving federal money.

Some of those programs may have value, but they don’t do anything to stimulate the economy by creating jobs, so they don’t belong in the recovery package, Minnick said.

“I would support a bill that is cut back to job creation,” he said.

Like McMorris Rodgers, Minnick noted that one of the bill’s original thrusts, to get federal money quickly to road and bridge projects that are ready to go, had become a small part of the overall spending.

The spending also should include definite timelines and require the government to balance the budget when the economy improves, Minnick said. Spending to create jobs should be combined with more federal aid to troubled banks, he added, but that money will have to come with more transparency and accountability than the money the last Congress approved in September.

“I want the president to be successful,” Minnick said. “This particular bill has gotten to the point where it’s not the best way to approach the problem.”

Both said they hope the bill changes in the Senate and is better when it comes back to the House.

“We’ve got some process to go through yet,” Minnick said.

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