Pentagon plans to furlough 800,000 civilian employees for 11 days are a needed step to meet the agency's $37 billion in budget cuts required under the federal budget sequester, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced.
"We've taken it as close to the line as we can, where we're still capable of protecting this country and the country's efforts around the world," said Hagel at a town-hall event, according to The Hill.
"We got to a point where we couldn't responsibly go any deeper into cutting without jeopardizing core missions," Hagel said. "I can't run this institution into the ditch."
Officials say the furloughs would save $1.8 billion in 2013, according to The Hill. Military personnel accounts are exempt from the sequester, so service members are not facing furloughs.
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the furlough decision "shameful and irresponsible," saying "the full impact of the administration's failure to plan for the budget cuts from sequestration will now be borne on the backs of dedicated DOD civilian employees."
The Pentagon had initially threatened to furlough civilians for 22 days but the agency was able to cut funds from operations accounts. The furloughs, the Pentagon said, were considered as a last option when no further cuts to training or maintenance could be made, according to The Hill, and Pentagon officials have said they will try to avoid civilian furloughs in 2014.
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