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Almost Half Of Furloughed Workers Called Back

From the Washington Post:

Pentagon to recall most furloughed workers, Hagel says

By Craig Whitlock | October 5, 2013

The Pentagon will recall almost all of its 350,000 furloughed civilian workers in the coming days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday, in a move that could substantially ease the impact of the government shutdown on the federal workforce.

"Substantially impact" in the sense that we have been told 800,000 workers could be furloughed. So this almost cuts that number in half. But the Washington Post couldn’t bring themselves to say that.

But it’s the sequester all over again.

Hagel’s decision is based on a liberal interpretation [sic!] of a bill passed by Congress last week and signed by President Obama that ensures uniformed members of the military will not have their paychecks delayed by the shutdown. The law, titled the Pay Our Military Act, includes broad language exempting Defense Department civilians from furlough if they provide direct support to the military.

Should this cover all of the DOD employees? If Defense Department civilian employees don’t provide support for the military, why are they even there?

In any case it’s clear now that furloughing these defense workers was illegal from the get-go. But it sure made for some nice fearmongering headlines for several weeks.

But this also means that Harry Reid’s precious ‘1,100 workers sitting home at Nellis AFB with their own problems’ never had to stay home in the first place. It was all political theater from the get-go.

Robert F. Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, estimated that more than 90 percent of about 350,000 furloughed Defense Department employees would return to work, many of them as soon as Monday. “We hope to move very quickly,” Hale told reporters.

The Defense Department directly employs about 750,000 civilians. Pentagon officials had previously said about 400,000 of them had been furloughed because of the government shutdown. Hale revised that number Saturday, saying that 350,000 was a more accurate figure…

Again, the number was inflated to try to scare the public.

After consulting with Pentagon lawyers and other Obama administration officials in recent days, Hagel decided that he could justify recalling almost of the Pentagon’s furloughed workforce based on provisions in the Pay Our Military Act.

Holder’s DOJ must be fighting this, tooth and nail.

In a statement, Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the law would not permit a blanket recall of all civilians working for the Pentagon. But he added that attorneys for the Justice and Defense departments agreed that the law does permit the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs “for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.” …

Once again, that should include all of them. Or why else do they work for the DOD?

“I expect us to significantly reduce – but not eliminate – civilian furloughs under this process,” he said. “We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible. Ultimately, the surest way to end these damaging and irresponsible furloughs, and to enable us to fulfill our mission as a Department, is for Congress to pass a budget and restore funds for the entire federal government." …

Yes, tell the Democrats to put up a budget for the first time in five years.

Moreover, Hagel’s decision could bring some relief to thousands of private contractors who work for the Defense Department but had faced the threat of layoffs because of the government shutdown. On Friday, for example, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said it would furlough about 3,000 employees next week and expects that number to grow if the budget standoff doesn’t end soon….

“I am very pleased to see so many of our national security workforce will be able to return to work,” Rep. Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Congress gave the Executive Branch broad authority to keep our Armed Forces and dedicated defense civilians working throughout the government shutdown. Though I do not believe the law required these hundreds of thousands of workers to be furloughed in the first place, it is welcome news.”

In a memo, Hagel noted that the Pay Our Military Act appropriates funds “as are necessary to provide pay and allowances to contractors” working for the Pentagon. He said that government lawyers are still “analyzing what authority is provided by this provision.” …

That is, the government lawyers are still trying to figure out how to get around the law to keep punishing these defense contractors. But they probably will have to give up on that, too.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, October 7th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Almost Half Of Furloughed Workers Called Back”

  1. Curiosity

    Of the categories of workers furloughed on Wright Patterson, the ones that most surprised me is that Public Affairs and the Freedom of Information Act offices were closed.

    Of course, it was also obnoxious that the Air Force museum was closed. Other than I think an SES or something most people there are volunteers.

    Incidentally, the government employees I work with were not furloughed because Science & Tech wings have the authority to spend money from one fiscal year on either the present fiscal year or the next year, and ours had enough saved up to keep (almost all?) the government civilians reporting for almost a month. I personally feel whomever was in charge of the decision, who stewarded funds carefully, should be commended (orgs that don’t spend every penny are typically punished). Our people did not end up with a paid vacation, but actually worked each day.

  2. preparing4theworst

    “for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.” …Does this mean the base Chaplins are back in business??….I didn’t think so




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