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In a statement Saturday explaining his action in recalling furloughed civilians to work, 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.
Traveling in Asia this week, Hagel stressed the importance of US military readiness to the nation’s position in the world.
"It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question: Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies?” he told reporters.
As the shutdown continued, the US headed for possible default Oct. 17, and the rhetorical barbs continued to fly, the two sides appeared to agree on one more thing: Allowing those 800,000-plus furloughed federal workers to be paid retroactively once they’re back to work, a measure approved unanimously by the House on Saturday. The White House backs the bill and the Senate was expected to approve it, too, but the timing was unclear.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.