Governors from both parties are warning of the damaging economic impact if the White House and Congress fail to reach a deal to stave off across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect Friday.
"It's senseless and it doesn't need to happen," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., during the annual meeting of the National Governors Association this weekend.
"And it's a damn shame, because we've actually had the fastest rate of jobs recovery of any state in our region. And this really threatens to hurt a lot of families in our state and kind of flat line our job growth for the next several months."
Some governors were pessimistic about the prospects for a compromise. They said the budget impasse was just the latest crisis in Washington that is keeping business from hiring and undermining the ability of governors to develop state spending plans.
"I've not given up hope, but we're going to be prepared for whatever comes," said Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev. "There will be consequences for our state."
The White House booked several Cabinet secretaries on the Sunday talk shows to detail the potential impact of the spending cuts on the public, from airports to classrooms.
The administration is bracing the country for widespread flight delays, shuttered airports, off-limit seashores and hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could face delays because the Federal Aviation Administration is in line for $600 million in spending cuts.
"We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts "We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do," LaHood told CNN's "State of the Union." ''But in the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers, and that then will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports."
There are fewer signs of urgency among congressional leaders, who have recently indicated their willingness to let the cuts take effect and stay in place for weeks, if not much longer.
The cuts would trim $85 billion in domestic and defense spending, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of workers at the Transportation Department, Defense Department and elsewhere.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces.
Obama has not been able to find success for his approach of reducing deficits through a combination of targeted savings and tax increases. House Republicans have said reduced spending needs to be the focus and have rejected the president's demand to include higher taxes as part of a compromise.
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