Congressional delegation fears for federal workers -- Gazette.Net


Maryland’s congressional Democrats say a budget deal needs to be reached so that federal workers and contractors in the state don’t lose their jobs.

A White House study found that 12,000 federal jobs would be impacted if automatic revenue cuts take effect Jan. 2, and $3.9 billion would be lost in spending if middle-class tax cuts are allowed to expire Dec. 31.

President Barack Obama and Maryland Democrats have supported extending tax cuts for the middle class and allowing President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 to expire.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) of Baltimore called on Congress this week to act quickly rather than waiting to the end of the lame-duck session.

“We need to end the culture of delay in this institution,” Mikulski said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “From staff level to senators, it’s, ‘Oh we’re going to be here until Christmas Eve.’ I think that’s a disaster. It’s a disaster to our economy and a disaster to our ability to govern and a disaster to our standing in the world.”

Democrats want to go ahead and pass the extension to the middle-class tax cuts, which already received bipartisan support in the Senate, and allow taxes on those making more than $250,000 to revert to where they were under President Bill Clinton, said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Dist. 5) of Mechanicsville.

“Frankly, we had the best economy when the Clinton rates were in force,” Hoyer said Thursday.

With so many federal agencies located in Maryland, the automatic cuts would hurt the state disproportionately — from workers at Fort Meade to health care providers at Johns Hopkins University, said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) of Pikesville.

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Dist. 7) of Baltimore said the American people want Congress to reach a compromise to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

“I believe the fiscal cliff is avoidable if a balanced compromise can be achieved that includes both increased revenue and targeted spending cuts,” Cummings said Thursday. “We cannot, however, address this fiscal cliff problem on the backs of our nation’s most vulnerable, such as our seniors. And there is no reason why we should not immediately extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans.”

U.S. Rep Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist.8) of Kensington said cuts to agricultural and oil subsidies, along with savings created by the Affordable Care Act, should be considered as part of a bargain to raise revenue.

“Our country faces significant fiscal challenges, but I believe we have an opportunity to make genuine progress on accelerating job creation and reducing our long-term deficit if we take a balanced approach and work together,” said Van Hollen, who was re-elected by Democrats on Thursday to serve as ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Fort Washington said any deal reached in Congress should not be allowed to hurt the most vulnerable Americans.

“It is important for us to strike a deal that is a balanced one and continue to look out for the middle class and grow our economy,” Edwards said. “I’ve always been a proponent of allowing the tax cuts on the wealthy to expire. “

But she is not optimistic a deal will be reached soon.

“Congress seems to work better with a real deadline, such as Christmas or New Year’s,” she said.

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Dist. 6) of Buckeystown did not comment on the fiscal cliff issue, and a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-Dist. 1) of Cockeysville did not return calls for comment.