Government shutdown 2013: Pentagon workers back on the job Monday
ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - Civilian employees at the Department of Defense got some good news over the weekend, and many of them are now back at work even as the shutdown rolls on.
Right before the shutdown began, Congress passed a bill called the "Pay Our Military Act" to ensure that active duty military members would continue receiving pay during the shutdown. But the Secretary of Defense determined this law impacted many more people than expected.
In a written statement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that attorneys from the Departments of Defense and Justice concluded the law allows the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs for employees who "contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members."
Over the weekend, Hagel made the announcement that nearly all of the 350 thousand civilian employees on furlough from the DOD could come back to work, news that was shared with employees over the weekend via email.
On a gray day outside the Pentagon, employees were pleased with the announcement.
Jack Bryant, who was set to be furloughed soon, was very pleased.
“I think it's great. There's a lot of insecurity...you don't know when you will work again...so this helps tremendously with morale, a very good thing," he says.
Employee Shannon Wright agreed.
“I think morale overall is pretty high. It was actually really positive. I think people were more upbeat," he says.
The announcement also comes as welcome news for restaurants in Crystal City that depend on business from the DOD.
At Cantina Mexicana, business was down 75% after the shutdown began last week. Now things are looking up, according to manager Jerson Delgado.
“It’s good for everybody. Not just for us but for them," Delgado says.
Up the street at the Crystal City Sports Pub, a similar sentiment from manager John Finlay.“
We need it. Like any small business we count on those people every day," he says.
About 10 percent of department of defense civilian workers will remain on furlough; they include employees less directly related to military members who work in areas like legislative or public affairs.