Some good news could be coming in the next day or two for a lot of furloughed Defense Department civilian employees.
Under the “Pay our Military Act “signed by President Obama this week, DoD not only gains the authority to pay uniformed military on time, but to do the same for civilian employees whom Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel determines are “providing support” to those troops.
And the word is that the Pentagon also plans to use that new authority aggressively to return a significant number of civilians to work. Exactly how many is unclear, but FedLine feels comfortable saying that it will be 100,000 or more. That would make a big dent in the ranks of the approximately 400,000 who are now furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday. For the record, though, we haven’t gotten any official confirmation from the Pentagon or Capitol Hill. “We are hopeful the department will make a determination as soon as this weekend, but we don’t know for sure,” Senate Armed Services Committee spokeswoman Kathleen Long said via email.
But on Thursday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are “doing everything we can” to put idled civilian workers back to work, noting that they had already been furloughed for six days this summer because of the sequester.
“This is no way to treat patriots,” Carter said to loud applause at the Partnership for Public Service’s banquet honoring this year’s Service to America award winners.