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Debt Ceiling Deal: Local Lawmakers Discuss Final Hours Of Negotiations

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The House of Representatives will debate a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution July 19.
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The House of Representatives will debate a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution July 19.

Maryland and Virginia lawmakers are closely examining a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling and reduce the deficit announced by President Obama late last night.

The deal will implement $2 trillion in spending cuts during the next 10 years, although some of that will have to be authorized by Congress between now and 2012. The first round of cuts include $1 trillion, and the remainder of cuts will be recommended by a special Congressional committee, according to the deal.

With the potential for a downgrade in the bond rating for both Virginia and Maryland if the nation defaults on its debt, local lawmakers have been eager for a resolution to the gridlock that has pervaded Washington of late.

To break the impasse, congressional leaders were calling for the government to set up the commission to find places to cut spending, including formerly untouchable categories like Defense and programs like Medicare.

Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin says breaking the gridlock is going to cause bi-partisan heartburn.

"Everyone has problems here, no one likes it – that's one of the things about a compromise," he says.

Liberal groups are already voicing opposition to the proposal to tweak Medicare as a part of the deal. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) says it's time for Republicans to make some sacrifices because her party already took tax increases off the table.

"So I believe we've moved 80% to the middle, so have we given up too much?" she says. "Well, we are facing where we are, so now it's time for the other side to do that."

Tuesday is the deadline set by the Treasury Department for Congress to raise the nation's debt limit, which has Wall Street, credit rating agencies, and countries across the globe closely watching Washington.

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