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Lawmakers Work On Savings Plan As Government Layoffs Loom

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PatWarrenWebPhoto Pat Warren
Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Congress faces another showdown over cuts and taxes. The deadline for automatic cuts to the Department of Defense and other agencies is rapidly approaching.

Political Reporter Pat Warren explains Maryland jobs are at stake.

Military might and economic recovery are apparently working at cross purposes with a potential $56 billion in defense department cuts and $59 billion in non-defense cuts set to take effect in January.

“In Maryland, just in my district we have Ft. Meade, National Security Agency (NSA), we have Aberdeen,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Second Congressional District, said.

And pink slips are going out in November.

“We’re all going to be in rough shape,” Ruppersberger said.

It would be a blow to the nation’s economic recovery. But it can be avoided if Congress agrees on an alternative savings plan.

“The House has already sent a plan over to the Senate,” Rep. Andy Harris, R-First Congressional District, said. “It’s one of those bills that we sent over that just seemed to die in the Senate where we come up with other spending-savings that would allow us not to cut the defense budget. And unfortunately, the Senate is not taking action on the plan.”

A big sticking point is whether to extend tax reductions to the rich, but neither Maryland’s Republicans nor Democrats see gridlock ahead.

“Oh, I don’t think we’ll come to gridlock,” Harris said. “In fact, the House is already talking about extending the tax rates.”

“We usually, in the end, come together,” Ruppersberger said. “But it’s hurting us now. It’s hurting our reputation globally. But more importantly, it’s hurting everyday, individual Americans, hurting families.”

Whatever action lawmakers take in the coming months, there will be a short turnaround to voter reaction in November.

The law would require layoff notices to go out Nov. 1– five days before the national election.

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