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Maryland committee presses for debt ceiling deal (access required)

Maryland lawmakers urged their federal counterparts Thursday to raise the country's debt limit without hashing out a deal to reduce the long-term debt and deficit. Del. Tom Hucker and Sen. Jennie M. Forehand, both Montgomery County Democrats and co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Federal Relations, pressed the state's congressional delegation to "do the right thing for Maryland and vote to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions." A U.S. default on its debt and long-term cost cutting would both hurt Maryland more than most other states, fiscal analysts say. Moody's Investor Service is reviewing the credit rating of Maryland and four other states heavily dependent on government spending. And the legislature's top fiscal analyst, Warren Deschenaux, told senators on Tuesday they should increase the state's cash cushion to ease painful federal spending retrenchment or default. The statement from Hucker and Forehand warns the "political brinkmanship" threatens Marylanders and the “millions of dollars in critical federal support” for schools, roads, bridges, mass transit (Montgomery and the Baltimore region are both looking for big federal bucks for light rail lines) and the Chesapeake Bay.