Federal employee unions for months have pressured Congress to forgo additional cuts to the workforce, despite a bevy of proposals on Capitol Hill to reduce benefits or pay. Asked if the panel's failure guarantees that a two-year pay freeze in effect for federal workers will be extended, Hoyer said: "I don't think so, but it makes it more likely."
Citing the state's close ties to the federal government, bond rating agencies threatened to downgrade Maryland's credit rating during the deficit fight in July. Such a move would have a major impact on budget making in Annapolis by making it harder for officials to borrow money or refinance current debt.
Standard & Poor's, the agency that downgraded the U.S. government's rating in August, released a report Monday focused on how the supercommittee inaction might affect state credit scores. Though it did not offer a definite prognosis, the report noted federal spending represents a larger share of the economy in Maryland than all but five states.
A spokesman for Standard & Poor's declined to comment on Maryland's rating.
Gov. Martin O'Malley blamed the lack of progress on congressional Republicans who he said "have shown that they will put tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires above what is best for our nation."
Republicans such as Rep. Andy Harris viewed the situation differently.
Democrats "refused to cut spending and instead tried to increase taxes on American job creators by one trillion dollars," said the Baltimore County lawmaker who also represents the Eastern Shore. "Their unwillingness to compromise on tax increases will put us on a one-way path to a European-style debt crisis."
The panel technically had until Wednesday to strike a deal. However, its members were also required to publicize their agreement by Monday.
Despite concern about the impact on Maryland, there are a few factors working to the state's advantage. For instance, the automatic cuts will not affect Medicaid — a major share of the state's federal dollars. And although defense contractors could be cut, the focus of Maryland's military installations may provide some insulation.
Fort Meade — the state's largest employer, with more than 56,000 workers in the fiscal year that ended in June — is home to the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. In a post-9/11 world, military leaders may be reluctant to let the intelligence agencies face more cuts. The new Walter Reed in Bethesda has been identified as the nation's lead institution for military medical research.
Clarence Bacon, a former national commander of the American Legion, met with Van Hollen last month and urged him to preserve spending on defense and veterans. The Bethesda man, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, said he remains concerned over what could be cut.
If the government slashes spending on veterans, he said, "it seems to me to be giving an impression to young Americans, 'Why should I join the military when our country doesn't want to take care of them when they come back?'"
Hayes expressed confidence that the reductions would be targeted.
"The balance between the inevitable need to cut and continuing to maintain our national security interests is something that both parties understand," he said.
"Now, how they're going to come to an agreement as to where those lines can be drawn has to play itself out."