Pentagon: Most furloughed civilians ordered backBy ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press | October 06,2013WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is bringing back to work at least 90 percent of the estimated 350,000 defense civilian employees who were furloughed in the partial government shutdown. The move takes a big bite out of the impact of the political impasse in Washington that has left the government without a budget.
The decision announced Saturday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is based on a Pentagon interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act. That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.
Republican lawmakers had complained in recent days that the Obama administration was slow to bring back those workers even though the law allowed it.
In a written statement explaining his action, Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all Pentagon civilians. But government attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs for “employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”
Hagel said he has told Pentagon officials, including leaders of the military services, to “identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories.” He said civilian workers should stand by for further word this weekend.
In remarks to reporters, Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s budget chief, said he did not yet know the exact number of civilians who would be brought back to work but that it would be “90 percent plus.” He said there are about 350,000 civilians on furlough, somewhat fewer than the 400,000 that officials had previously indicated. If 90 percent were recalled that would mean 315,000 coming off furlough.
Hale said that even with this relief, the effect of the furloughs has been severe.
“We’ve seriously harmed civilian morale; this (recall) will be a start back,” he said.
Hale said he hoped that a “substantial number” could be returned to work on Monday but that an exact timetable is not available.
Hagel had made clear earlier in the past week that Pentagon lawyers were trying to determine ways for some of the Defense Department’s furloughed civilians to get back to work.
“It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question,” he told reporters traveling with him Tuesday in South Korea. “Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies?”
The law ensured that members of the military, who have remained at work throughout the shutdown, would be paid on time. It also left room for the Pentagon to keep on the job those civilians who provide support to the military.MORE IN This Just InSPRINGFIELD — A man accused of killing a West Haven father and son died in the Springfield... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Scientists call for more research on the temporal and lasting effects of nuclear fallout on plants and animals in proximity to Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station where changes at the molecular level were found.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 410 CE, Visigoths sack Rome and it isn't the first time, either; in 1859, Titusville, Pa., the first commercially viable oil well comes in; in 1918, the only World War I battle fought on U.S. soil in Nogales, Ariz.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Archaelogists uncover artifacts proving that late neolithic Egyptians, pre-dating the Pyramids of Giza, practiced mummification to prepare their dead for the afterlife, far earlier than presupposed.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE:Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing that pollute ground water and the air we breathe come under scrutiny by researchers who find at least eight fracking chemicals toxic to mammals.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: The craze for Omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement in its most popular form, fish oil, has led to depletion of fish stocks in oceans throughout the world. Is this the beginning of the total collapse of global fisheries?
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Suspects arrested in Killington bear death, Bryanna Allen and Kevin O'Connor report along the Back to School front, Rutland Plywood site remains an active fire scene as debris continues to smolder.