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Defense Department reviewing which civilian employees are covered by new law

Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, has been accusing President Barack Obama this week of ignoring a new law that guarantees military pay despite the shutdown.

About 7,000 civilian workers at Fort Bragg, in Ellmers’ district, reportedly have been furloughed.

Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act on Monday, and the president signed it into law. The measure was meant to make sure that soldiers would be paid without interruption.

“This was signed into law by President Obama and has been in effect since Monday, yet the president is refusing to enforce it. Therefore, these Fort Bragg furloughs should not be occurring,” Ellmers said in a statement. “Fort Bragg employees across my district are suffering because the president wants to inflict pain and play political games with people’s lives.”

Ellmers said that the bill should ensure payments to troops and civilian defense employees. The Defense Department, however, said that it was conducting a legal review into who is covered by the law.

The review would determine whether more civilian employees can be taken off furlough, said Navy Cmdr. William Urban, a Defense Department spokesman. As of Friday afternoon, the review had not been completed.

About 800,000 civilians work for the Department of Defense, and about half of them have been furloughed, Urban said.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., introduced a bill on Thursday that — if it became law — would amend the Pay Our Military Act to guarantee that all civilian defense workers, along with military reserve troops in training, would receive pay and benefits during the shutdown.
— Renee Schoof, McClatchy Washington Bureau


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