Maryland Democrats sign on to conference agreement

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the leaders of the conference committee, announced they had reached a deal early Thursday, after a topsy-turvy day of negotiations.

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The two Maryland Democrats played a prominent role in one of the panel’s final hurdles, making a last-ditch effort to replace proposed federal pension cuts with a reduction in federal employees' 2013 cost-of-living increase from 1.7 percent to 0.5 percent.

In the end, the final agreement exempted current federal employees from the pension changes.

The Democrats’ efforts appear to have been aided by resistance from Senate Republicans to the conference agreement. Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Barrasso of Wyoming, two of the three Senate GOP conferees, complained Thursday that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had shut them out of negotiations over the payroll tax deal.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Democrats have tried to undercut that argument.

But with a majority of Senate conferees needing to sign on to the conference agreement for it to proceed, the reluctance from Senate Republicans seems to have given Cardin extra leverage in negotiations.

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