Maryland's senators joined the majority of Congress in voting for a deal to keep the nation from defaulting on its loans.
The oxygen is back in Washington now that a lengthy stalemate over raising the nation's debt limit is over. But the compromise measure wasn't easy for lawmakers such as Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski to support, though in the end she did cast an "aye" vote.
"I think it's stark," said Mikulski. "I think it's stern. But I think it was necessary to avoid a default, which would have wrecked our economy or a downgrade which would wreck our economy and therefore wreck everything that I'm going to try to do."
If a new joint congressional committee can't find more than $1.5 trillion in future budget cuts, the deal would trigger deep reductions in defense and Medicare spending. Even so, Maryland's other democratic senator, Ben Cardin, says his party's leaders were able to protect the nation's neediest citizens in the deal.
"We have removed all of the low income programs from automatic reductions," said Cardin. "We've protected Medicare beneficiaries and Social Security recipients."
The president signed the measure into law earlier this afternoon, averting a potential default.