A day after questions from 50 senators about implementation of furloughs by the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced that most civilians will be back on the job next week.
"The Department of Defense consulted closely with the Department of Justice, which expressed its view that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. However, DoD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," Hagel said in a statement Saturday.
"Consequently, I am now directing the Military Departments and other DoD components to move expeditiously to identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories. I expect us to be able to significantly reduce — but not eliminate — civilian furloughs under this process. Employees can expect to hear more information from their managers starting this weekend," added Hagel.
Hagel said that Pentagon lawyers consulted with the Justice Department on interpreting the parameters of a new law allowing for Defense Department civilians to be on the job and receive their paychecks under certain conditions connected to missions supporting uniformed personnel.
The senators had criticized what they viewed as conflicting reports from constituents about which Defense employees were subject to furlough.
"The bill does not limit the provision of pay to civilians or certain service members who were previously categorized by the Administration as 'excepted' or 'essential' during sequestration furloughs. The law that we recently passed is explicitly clear: all members of the Armed Forces, including Reserve component personnel serving in an active status, will be paid in the event of a government shutdown," the senators wrote Friday.