As the House of Representatives struggled to break a deadlock on the federal budget yesterday, Washington area lawmakers were confronting widespread disgust among their constituents and predicting that things could get worse.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) described his constituents as "damned angry" and said federal workers are "getting jacked around." Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) said Congress is "definitely angering people . . . it's angering me." And Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) said that among the public "the perception of the performance of Congress is dismal."

House members, facing the prospect of a government shutdown that would throw hundreds of thousands of Washington area residents out of work, spent most of yesterday hoping to dodge a political bullet. But with budget plans suspended in uncertainty, several were sweating bullets as well.

Federal workers "are pawns in a game of Russian roulette," said Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.). "This creates a demoralizing effect for them and for us. I have the same frustrations as my constituents.

"There are real people out there with real mortgages" who depend on government paychecks, McMillen said. "I would hate to think the president of the United States would bring our government to a halt" to settle the budget dispute.

Last night, the House approved a stopgap budget that would keep the government operating another week, and only one area lawmaker opposed it: Rep. Beverly Byron (D-Md.).

Before dawn Friday, when the House defeated a budget compromise proposed by congressional leaders and President Bush, Washington area lawmakers split on the package.

Three of four House members who represent districts concentrated around the Capital Beltway supported the plan: Hoyer, Wolf and Constance A. Morella (R-Md.). Parris opposed the budget, citing opposition to tax increases.

Of the four House members whose districts stretch from the Washington suburbs into outlying part of Virginia and Maryland, three opposed the compromise: Byron, Roy P. Dyson (D-Md.) and D. French Slaughter Jr. (R-Va.). McMillen, who has a large concentration of federal employees in his district, supported the budget.

Most House members echoed a complaint they registered before the vote: Choosing between preserving the jobs of federal workers or torpedoing a round of tax increases was one of their most difficult votes ever. And they said that even if a last-minute solution is salvaged, support for Congress probably would sink.

"There will be further erosion of the public's confidence in the ability of Congress to govern," Morella said. "There's bound to be reaction. Whenever {lawmakers} want to ventilate because of something that Congress didn't do, federal workers suffer."

Parris, who faces a vigorous election challenge from Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran Jr., a Democrat, was the only House member whose district has a large number of federal workers to vote against the compromise. He was the most optimistic yesterday that a government shutdown could be avoided, but acknowledged that massive layoffs "would have enormous implications for me."

"This is not the end of the world and the sky is not falling," Parris said. "We will work something out; we always do."

But Parris conceded that politically, the budget gridlock hurts incumbents. "If I were an ordinary taxpayer, I would say, 'Have they taken leave of their senses?' " Parris said.