Advocates for a host of Maryland interests — from the Chesapeake Bay to the defense industry — said Wednesday they are anxiously watching whether the election will change the political landscape here despite early indications that it probably won't.
A divided Congress will remain in place come January, and lawmakers wasted little time in disagreeing about the meaning of President
Looming is the year-end deadline to address a $500 billion combination of expiring tax breaks and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers return to Washington on Tuesday to begin work on that issue.
"We both have mandates — to get things done," said Sen.
The region's vast contracting industry is particularly vulnerable to the "fiscal cliff." The federal government awarded $27 billion in contracts in Maryland in 2010. Under the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration that would be imposed if a budget cannot be passed, the Department of Defense would be forced to trim $50 billion from its budget.
"It probably does change the dynamic a bit," said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, a contracting trade group, of Obama's re-election. "There's probably a better chance they're going to avoid sequestration, but no one is sure what that looks like."
Leaders of two federal workforce unions cheered Obama's re-election, pointing out that Republican
"Labor delivered Ohio for President Obama," said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "President Obama knows that."
Nearly 300,000 federal workers live in Maryland, about 10 percent of the state's civilian workforce.
In Cox's view, the election was largely a referendum on Obama's plan to let tax cuts expire on individual income over $200,000 and Republicans should let that happen. If they do, he said, it would produce enough revenue — about $40 billion in 2013 — to possibly make federal employees less of a target.
Federal workers have already been operating under a two-year pay freeze. Obama has called for a modest 0.5 percent increase for 2013.
But even before Election Day, House Speaker
Obama, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader
"I want to work together," he said, "but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around."
Rep. Andy Harris, who will be the only Republican in the Maryland congressional delegation next year, said his party is confident in its negotiating position because it retained control of the House. He said he believes a deal can be reached, but only if Obama negotiates in good faith.
"We enter with a mandate equal to the president's," said Harris, whose district stretches from
Maryland's other Republican, 20-year incumbent Rep.
The fate of other, national legislation that would affect Maryland remains unclear. Some lawmakers would like to take up a $500 billion farm bill that pays for agricultural programs,
Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Gov.
Doug Siglin, the top federal lobbyist for the
Part of the group's focus over the next few years will be to keep that framework in place, he said, and guard bay restoration programs from cuts.
"Water is going to be part of the agenda," Siglin said of Obama's second term. "I'm upbeat."