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Panetta notifies Congress of Pentagon civilian furloughs

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listens to questions from journalists during a news conference at Sao Juliao fortress, on the outskirts of Lisbon, in this January 15, 2013, file photo.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listens to questions from journalists during a news conference at Sao Juliao fortress, on the outskirts of Lisbon, in this January 15, 2013, file photo.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally notified Congress on Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to put civilian defense employees on unpaid leave this year if $46 billion in across-the-board budget cuts take effect on March 1.

The announcement of congressional notification begins a 45-day process that could ultimately lead to unpaid leave for most of the department's 800,000 civilian employees across the United States.

"We expect more than 80 percent to be furloughed," a defense official said.

Panetta, who announced the notification in a message to Defense Department employees as he traveled to Brussels for a NATO meeting, is required by law to advise Congress 45 days before the Pentagon furloughs any workers.

The Pentagon is planning to put most civilian workers on unpaid leave for one day a week for 22 weeks between April and the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, officials have said.

The military services also were formally notified of the decision on Wednesday and have until early March to ask the Pentagon for exceptions, a defense official said.

The Defense Department will review the requests and approve exceptions by the middle of March, after which workers will receive 30 days notice of the impending furloughs.

The unpaid leave, which will essentially cut the pay of civilian employees by 20 percent, is expected to save up to $5 billion, one of many cuts required as the Pentagon tries to slash $46 billion in spending by the end of the year.

The across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, are due to go into effect on March 1 unless Congress decides to delay them. They were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 because lawmakers and the White House failed to reach a compromise on alternative spending reductions.

"We are doing everything possible to limit the worst effects on DoD (Defense Department) personnel, but I regret that our flexibility within the law is extremely limited," Panetta said in his message to employees.

"The president has used his legal authority to exempt military personnel funding from sequestration, but we have no legal authority to exempt civilian personnel funding from reductions," he added.

"As a result, should sequestration occur and continue for a substantial period, DoD will be forced to place the vast majority of its civilian workforce on administrative furlough," Panetta said.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

Man look at that face shot of Panetta. Is that not a mug befitting the Sopranos? Awesome.

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RedEric 1 year, 8 months ago

40 some percent of illegal aliens are on food stamps. That amounts to around $600 million per month. That estimate is probably light. That doesn't count what is spent on welfare, housing, schooling etc. how can you lay off US Citizens while you are spending huge sums of money supporting non citizens? Anybody who STILL thinks this administration is trying to make things better is insane or stupid.

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TrixibelleBento 1 year, 8 months ago

How's the Obama administration going to spin THAT wonderful news? He can't continue to blame others...it's time for him to accept the fact that his world view is not business friendly or economy friendly. We are circling the drain, all the while putting good folks out of work while handing out more and more to those who vote (D).

800,000 skilled laborers who will not be able to find a job. Mr. President, these are the middle class folks you keep talking about! These are folks who are educated and make real contributions to our economy. Pretty soon, they'll be out there competing for jobs that serve french fries. Yay USA! Circling the drain...

Only in America do we welcome everyone with open arms, give them an Obama phone and an EBT card, bring our military to its knees and let the Chinese, Russians and Middle East walk all over us.

WHO IS GOING TO PAY ALL OF THIS WHEN WE HAVE ANOTHER 800,000 NOT SUPPORTING OUR GOVERNMENT? Waiting for an answer...

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VSU 1 year, 8 months ago

Sad that Obuma will pay people not to work, but not people that are willing to work.

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LoneCycler 1 year, 8 months ago

All MCLB Albany/Barstow employees have been informed today by the CG that they will be given advanced notice of furlough. In addition overtime work will cease, which is really going to hurt many. Discussions among government employees on the base have determined one certain result will be that the local Krispy Kreme will see much less business. It’s common for donuts to be brought in by supervisors for employees on overtime work at the Maintenance Center. There will be other ‘trickle down’ affects in the local community service trades. Civilian employees that are active AFL-CIO union members are blaming congress for their coming paycheck cuts while everyone else seems to be trying to figure out how much they get paid for 16 hours and what that will mean to them.

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