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White House warns of education, defense cuts in Md.

WASHINGTON -- Maryland would lose $14.4 million in federal education funding, roughly 46,000 Department of Defense employees would be furloughed and 2,050 fewer children would receive vaccines if looming across-the-board spending cuts are allowed to take effect this week, according to a report released Sunday by the Obama administration.

The report, the latest in a series of efforts by the White House to underscore the potential impact of the nation's latest budget impasse, also states that 200 education jobs would be put at risk, that Maryland would lose $3.1 million in environmental funding and that Blue Angels shows in Annapolis and Ocean City could be canceled.

Congress returns to Washington on Monday with five days to address $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, set to begin Friday. With Republicans and Democrats at odds over how to avoid the spending reductions, the discussion in Washington increasingly is focused not on whether sequestration will take place, but for how long.

"This latest report from the White House confirms sequester will be devastating, causing ripple effects across our economy and costing America hundreds of thousands of jobs we can't afford to lose," Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. "These are real impacts in real communities with real consequences."

The reductions are the result of another partisan battle in 2011 to raise the nation's debt ceiling and were never intended to take effect. Rather, they were meant to spur Congress toward a large deficit reduction deal that has since proven elusive. Lawmakers already delayed the cuts once, as part of the agreement to avoid last month's "fiscal cliff."

Sequestration cuts equally across departments and agencies with a few exceptions (such as Medicaid and Social Security payments). But it will leave agency heads flexibility in how to administer the cuts. The most noticeable cuts are also not likely to kick in right away.

The state-by-state impact reports released by the administration Sunday carefully noted in many cases that certain reductions "could" happen instead of "will" happen.

The report is also mostly silent on the issues that stand to have the biggest impact on the state's economy: furloughs for nearly 300,000 federal employees who live in Maryland and reductions to federal contractors. Federal spending on goods and wages in Maryland makes up nearly 20 percent of the state's economy, according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

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