Hours after the U.S. House sent President Obama a final budget for the current fiscal year, the Pentagon announced it was taking time to review how that budget might impact plans to furlough hundreds of thousands of civilian defense workers for up to 22 days between April and the end of September.
"We believe the delay is a responsible step to take in order to assure our civilian employees that we do not take lightly the prospect of furloughs and the resulting decrease in employee pay," said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.
The reason for the review is that the budget bill given final approval this week allows the Pentagon some flexibility in dealing with $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that hit at the beginning of March.
For example, the plan shifted $10.4 billion into Operations and Maintenance accounts - civilian defense workers can be paid from those funds, so if there is more available, theoretically that could mean fewer furlough days.
The Pentagon had been planning to furlough as many as 800,000 civilian defense workers for 22 days between late April and the end of September, when the fiscal year ends.
But by delaying the actual notice of furlough, that would push the start of any forced days off without pay into May, as federal employees must get a 30-day notice before any furloughs take place.
The furloughs of civilian defense workers would save about $5 billion of the $46 billion that needs to be cut from the military's budget before the fiscal year ends at the end of September.
Here is the statement issued today on the matter by the Pentagon:
"The Department of Defense has decided to delay the issuance of civilian employee furlough notices for approximately two weeks. This delay will allow the department to carefully analyze the impact of pending continuing resolution legislation on the department's resources. We have not made any decisions on whether or not the total number of planned furlough days for fiscal 2013 will change as a result of this delay.
We believe the delay is a responsible step to take in order to assure our civilian employees that we do not take lightly the prospect of furloughs and the resulting decrease in employee pay.
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