Under the 'Pay Our Military Act' passed just before the government shutdown, most Pentagon civilians are considered essential to military readiness. Defense Secretary Hagel is ordering them back to work.
Thousands of furloughed federal workers got two bits of good news Saturday.
The House passed a bill that would provide back pay to the 800,000-plus workers furloughed because of the federal government shutdown, now in its fifth day. And a large portion of those thousands of workers – most of the 400,000 civilian Defense Department employees – are expected to go back to work right away.
Uniformed military personnel were never part of the furlough, and Pentagon civilians supporting US military activities – from policy planners and weapons designers to those maintaining dining halls – are considered essential to readiness.
On Monday, the day before the shutdown began, Congress passed and President Obama signed the “Pay Our Military Act.” It authorizes paychecks for uniformed personnel as well as civilians who Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel determines “are providing support to members of the Armed Forces.”
“Congress fully intended for all of our civilian defense workers to be treated the same as our active duty military members,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) of Colorado, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote on Facebook. “All are vital to our national defense and need to be on the job protecting the nation.”