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Milford Beacon
  • Hagel ends civilian furloughs; Dover AFB resuming full operations

  • Dover Air Force Base is resuming full operations following a weekend announcement that ended furloughs for civilian personnel.
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  • Dover Air Force Base is resuming full operations Monday following a weekend announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
    More than half of the base's approximately 1,000 civilian workers were told to stay home beginning Oct. 1, when Congress and President Barack Obama could not come to terms on a continuing resolution to keep government operations funded.
    Hagel's announcement means the base will be up to full strength with its civilian workforce, who will return to work on Oct. 8, said 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office spokeswoman 1st Lt. Remoshay Nelson.
    "Based on the 'Pay Our Military Act,' all furloughed civilian workers assigned to Dover Air Force Base have been officially recalled to active duty," Nelson said.
    Facilities such as the base library and Health and Wellness Center, reopened on Monday, Nelson said. The commissary and Air Mobility Command Museum, which are normally closed on Monday, will reopen Tuesday, she said.
    In a statement released Oct. 5, Hagel said he directed the Department of Defense acting counsel general to review the POMA as soon as Obama had affixed his signature to the legislation on Sept. 30. In a rare show of bipartisan support, the bill had passed the House of Representatives Sept. 29 by a 423-0 vote; it was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate a day later.
    Hagel said he asked the Pentagon attorney that even though POMA was directed at keeping paychecks flowing to military personnel, he wanted to know if it could apply to civilians.
    The counsel general consulted with legal experts in the Department of Justice, who concluded it could not be used as a blanket recall of all furloughed civilians.
    "However," Hagel said, "DoD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members."
    Hagel called the pay stoppages in the civilian workforce due to sequestration and budget impasse furloughs "very disruptive," adding he supports legislation that would allow retroactive pay for DoD employees once the budget stalemate ends.
    "I will continue to urge Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities to pass a budget and restore full funding for the Department of Defense and the rest of the government," Hagel said.
    On Oct. 5, in a 407-0 vote, the House elected to grant full back pay to government workers once the government shutdown ends. The Senate was due to take up the matter on Monday.
    Obama has said he supports such back pay legislation.

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