Number of Furloughed Workers Just Got Cut in Half

Pentagon ordering about 400K back to work

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 5, 2013 1:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – About half of the 800,000 federal workers furloughed this week because of the government shutdown were civilians who worked for the Defense Department. And now the Pentagon is ordering most of them back to work on Monday, reports the AP. Defense chief Chuck Hagel says he can make the move thanks to legislation that passed just before the shutdown began. The main purpose of the Pay Our Military Act was to ensure that troops would get paid during the impasse, but it also gave the Pentagon leeway to keep aboard civilians who provide support to the military.

Defense department lawyers have concluded that they can get away with bringing back the whole lot of them, or close to it. "I'm not a lawyer, but I do have some appreciation for common sense, and common sense tells you that if you're working for the Department of Defense, you're supporting the defense and the security of America, and you're supporting those who are on the front lines," said Hagel before the move was announced, reports the Wall Street Journal. More specifics are expected through the weekend. Meanwhile, legislation to make sure that all furloughed employees will collect back pay is speeding along on Capitol Hill.

In a file photo, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel observes military training in South Korea.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
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