The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Pentagon ordering most of its furloughed civilian employees back to work despite shutdown

  • Print

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is bringing back to work at least 90 per cent of the estimated 350,000 civilian defence 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 Defence 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 Department of Justice 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 per cent plus." He said there are about 350,000 civilians on furlough, somewhat fewer than the 400,000 that officials had previously indicated. If 90 per cent were recalled that would mean 315,000 coming off furlough. About 800,000 federal workers had been sidelined by the partial shutdown.

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 Defence 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 travelling with him Tuesday in South Korea. "Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfil 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.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Tim Campbell on the Jets' inconsistency - Jets This Week Oct. 16

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hangs out on a birch tree in St. Vital. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is considered a keystone species. Other species take advantage of the holes that the birds make in trees. A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a
  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google