Shutdown Theater: Happy Ending for Civilian Pentagon Workers
The picture is framed perfectly. The music swells to a dramatic high. Somewhere, you can hear a puppy barking and children are laughing in the background. The two lovers embrace passionately -- but chastely (this is a family film, after all) and the words "The End" fill the screen before it fades to black.
And civilian Pentagon workers all lived happily ever after.
The Pentagon has ordered roughly 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the worker recall in a department-wide memorandum issued Saturday.
After consulting with the Justice Department and Department of Defense legal counsel, Hagel noted furloughed employees could be brought back to the Pentagon, while still complying with federal guidelines governing the shutdown, according to the memo.
Civilian workers at DOD shown to play a role in the "morale, well-being [and]...readiness" of U.S. forces could be brought back, under federal rules, Hagel wrote.
Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale is scheduled to hold a briefing on the details of the recall later today.
Lawmakers praised the Pentagon's decision to put the department's civilian workforce back on the federal pay roll.
"Congress fully intended for all of our civilian defense workers to be treated the same as our active duty military members," House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said in a statement Saturday.
"All [federal employees] are vital to our national defense and need to be on the job protecting the nation," he added.
While supportive of the Pentagon's decision, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said the move would have been unnecessary if Obama had not "been playing politics" with civilian furloughs.
The White Houses "should not have furloughed these hard working men and women," Turner said in a statement Saturday.
"They should have been allowed to work through this entire shutdown," the House defense panel member said, adding Obama is using federal workers as "bargaining chips" in the ongoing shutdown stand off with congressional Republicans.
"These men and women are crucial to our country's national defense and I am glad they will be allowed to go back to work this week to support our armed forces," he added.
Hagel's order comes hours after House lawmakers approved legislation to issue back pay to furloughed federal workers.
What -- did Hagel wake up this morning, slap his hand to his forehead and exclaim. "Sheesh! I'm a dummy. These people could have been working the whole time the government has been shut down!"
Not likely. Still, it begs the question; why the heck were these people furloughed in the first place? Instead of checking with DoJ and DoD lawyers the last couple of days, why not before the shutdown even occurred? Or 5 minutes after it happened?
Perhaps Hagel told Obama that there was stuff not getting done so could he please stop playing politics with our national security and let me bring my people back?
Isn't this ironclad proof that Obama is cynically trying to manipulate the shutdown to his advantage? Ya think? Of course, the press will resolutely ignore the obvious implications of this and continue to call the GOP poopy heads for allowing all this pain and suffering by being solely responsible for shutting down the government.
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