The Pentagon just announced that it is suspending the issuance of furlough notices as the continuing resolution that passed the House today is reviewed.
The CR, which keeps the government running for six months and averts a shutdown, passed the Senate on Wednesday.
Defense officials had asked Congress for greater flexibility in the CR to allocate budget resources as needed, saying that these restrictions coupled with sequestration are the double whammy that’s hitting operations and maintenance accounts too severely.
“The Department of Defense has decided to delay the issuance of civilian employee furlough notices for approximately two weeks,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement this afternoon. “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.”
The roughly 750,000 employees who could be subject to furloughs were expected to receive 30-day notices in mid-March. The furloughs would amount to a 20 percent pay cut between late April and 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,” Little said.
The furloughs will exempt civilians serving in combat zones, and must include another “slightly embarrassing” exception, as noted last month by Under Secretary of Defense and Chief Financial Officer Robert F. Hale: Senate-confirmed political appointees are exempt by law. About 50,000 foreign nationals working for the Pentagon will also be exempt.
House GOP officials told PJM that the party was mindful of accommodating Defense requests for flexibility in the CR.