WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon is ordering most of its approximately 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work.
The decision announced Saturday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is based on a Pentagon legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act. That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.
In a written statement explaining his action, 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.
Hagel had made clear earlier in the past week that Pentagon lawyers were trying to determine ways for some of the Defense Department's 400,000 furloughed civilians to get back to work.
He told reporters traveling with him Tuesday in South Korea, "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?"
The Pentagon did not immediately say on Saturday exactly how many workers will return to work. The Defense Department said "most" were being brought back.
The law ensured that members of the military, who have remained at work throughout the shutdown, would be paid on time. It also left room for the Pentagon to keep on the job those civilians who provide support to the military.
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:53 PM EST2013-12-06 01:53:54 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie.A high speed chase through Eastern Sussex County that eventually ended near Milford, but not after a 70-mile cat-and-mouse game with police. PoliceMore
Police officers chased 45-year old Jorge Vasquez for almost two hours through multiple towns. That has some people questioning whether police should have stopped the pursuit.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:40 PM EST2013-12-06 01:40:13 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts. "It just kind of gives you that wonderland effect walking in the door," said BonnieMore
Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 7:23 PM EST2013-12-06 00:23:26 GMT
SALISBURY, Md.-Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County. According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in aMore
Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County.
According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in a 55mph zone.
Thursday, December 5 2013 3:55 PM EST2013-12-05 20:55:07 GMT
Princess Anne, MD –Maryland State Police criminal investigators arrested two suspects today in the murder of Adrian Lurele Marshall in Princess Anne. Police say those arrested are identified as BrandonMore
Maryland State Police on Thursday arrested two suspects in connection with last week's fatal shooting of a Princess Anne man.More
A high-speed police chase that traversed eastern Sussex County ended in Milford on Wednesday afternoon, authorities say. Georgetown Police say they've arrested 45 year old Jorge Vasquez for reckless endangering, resisting arrest, failure to stop on command of a police officer and numerous other traffic offenses, in connection with today's chase.More