Washington, Oct. 6 (Reuters): The Pentagon has said it will recall the vast majority of around 350,000 civilian defence department employees sent home during the US government shutdown, a move that could greatly lessen the impact of Washington infighting on the armed forces.
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said a legal review of the Pay Our Military Act, signed by President Barack Obama on Monday on the eve of the shutdown, would allow him to bring most civilians back to work next week.
“I expect us to be able to significantly reduce — but not eliminate — civilian furloughs under this process,” Hagel said. “Employees can expect to hear more information from their managers starting this weekend.”
In a telephone briefing to reporters, Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale estimated that no more than a few tens of thousands of employees would remain on furlough.
“And it may be substantially less than that,” he said, adding that furloughed personnel who did not qualify to return included legislative affairs personnel and some employees working in public affairs.
Hale estimated the number of civilian personnel now furloughed at roughly 350,000, down from previous estimates by US defence officials of about 400,000 workers.
Since the start of the shutdown, American troops have felt the fallout from the feuding in Washington despite legislation meant to protect them.