NGAUS Washington Report
(Oct. 8, 2013) Most National Guard dual-status technicians are back to work after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that most Defense Department civilian workers furloughed by the government shutdown could return to work.
Hagel said the decision came after Defense Department lawyers determined employees could be exempted from furloughs if their responsibilities “contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”
NGAUS supports this move by the defense secretary and gave its support to a letter to Hagel from a bipartisan group of 50 senators asking him to broadly interpret the Pay Our Military Act to include those Guardsmen.
“This is a good decision by the defense secretary,” said Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president. “It is the right thing to do, for the technicians and their families, but also for the Guard and the country.”
“But we still want the Congress and the White House to put the entire government back to work. This shutdown is harmful in many ways and needs to end, the sooner the better.”
A complete end to the shutdown would allow drilling Guardsmen to attend drills and receive pay for doing so. Currently, drills are not being held if they are scheduled for a weekend of the shutdown.
Also, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who led the effort in the Senate to send the letter, said he was glad to see Hagel take action, but will continue to review the details with Defense Department and National Guard leaders to ensure it includes all employees essential to our national security.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., led a similar effort in the House and was joined by 87 members from both sides of the aisle. He called the Guard “a critical component” of America’s ability to respond to crises at home and abroad.
Hargett added, “This is also an example of what Congress can do when it operates in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats and Republicans can get things done when they join together for the good of the country.”