Feedback: 'Vast Majority' Of Military Civilian Employees Could Be Furloughed

Thatincludesthe5,000civilianemployeesatFortDrum.
"Wehavenolegalauthoritytoexemptcivilianpersonnelfundingfromreductions,"PanettasaidinamessagetoDepartmentofDefense(DoD)employeesreleasedWednesdaymorning.
"Asaresult,"hesaid,"shouldsequestrationoccurandcontinueforasubstantialperiod,DoDwillbeforcedtoplacethevastmajorityofitscivilianworkforceonadministrativefurlough."
IfCongressandthepresidentdon'treachanagreementonhowtobalancethefederalbudget,across-the-boardbudgetcuts--calledsequestration--willgointoeffectMarch1.
TheDoDalonewouldbecutby$46billion.
Panettasaidcivilianemployeeswillreceive30-daynoticesiffurloughsarenecessary.
Pentagonofficialshavesaidthefurloughswouldbestructuredsothatnearlyall800,000civilianworkersloseonedayofworkperweekfor22weeks,probablystartinginlateApril.
Thatmeanstheywouldlose20percentoftheirpayoverthatperiod.
Panettasaidthedefensedepartmentisalreadyunderorderstocutspendingandthesequestrationcutswillonlymakethingsworse.
Thedefensesecretaryvowedtocontinuetofightagainstpersonnelcuts.
"Ourmostimportantassetatthedepartmentisourworld-classpersonnel,"hesaidinthestatement.
"Youarefightingeverydaytokeepourcountrystrongandsecure,andrestassuredthattheleadersofthisdepartmentwillcontinuetofightwithyouandforyou."
ForoneoftheunionsonFortDrum,thebriefingdidn'toffermuchinthewayofnewinformation.
Butitdidreinforcetheirfeelingthattheyarepawnsinagameofpolitics.
"It'sjustsadthatit'sgettingtothispoint.It'slikeabiggameofchicken,"saidLorenZeilnhofer,representativeforLocal4000oftheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees.
Forworkersnow,thebigquestioniswhichoneswillbeexemptfromthefurlough.
"Thebasicguidanceislife,safetyandhealth.Butthathasn'tbeenfurtherdefinedsowereallydon'tknow,"saidZeilnhofer.DuringabriefingWednesdayafternoon,Pentagonofficialssaidmilitarypersonnelwouldhavetocutbackontraining.
Theysaidasaresult,two-thirdsofBrigadeCombatTeams(BCTs)wouldbeleftatlowerlevelsofreadiness.
"Itcouldaffecttheirabilitytodeploytoanewcontingencyifoneoccurredorifthisgoesonlongenough,eventoAfghanistan,"saidRobertHale,UnderSecretaryofDefense.
That'sbecausecivilianssupportthesoldiers.
"Wehavepeoplethatworkontheranges,thatworkinequipment,computers.Itrunsthegamut,"saidZeilnhofer.
There'sstilltimeforadealinWashington,butnosignofoneintheworks.
StatementFromOwens
Inastatement,northcountryCongressmanBillOwenssaidCongresshasallowedpoliticshinderprogressontheissueforfartoolong.
"ToprotectmiddleclassjobsandimportantmilitaryassetslikeFortDrum,wemustgettoworkfindingaresponsiblepathtobudgetcuts,"Owenssaid.Owenssayshesupportswhathecalls"commonsensesolutions"tocutfederalspending,likeaproposaltoeliminateduplicationacrossgovernmentservicesorallowingMedicaretonegotiatedrugpricesliketheVAdoesalready.
"Icallonbothpartiestoworktogethertoputtheseandothersolutionsonthetableinsearchofcommongroundandaresponsiblefixtoavoidsequestration."


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