WASHINGTON (WAVY) - Congressman Scott Rigell has joined dozens of other members of Congress requesting an explanation for decisions behind furloughing civilians.
Rigell (R) and 30 other Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking for clarification of the legal and economic decisions. The civilian workers are funded through Defense Working Capital funds.
According to the letter, DoD employees paid out of the Working Capital fund are protected and may be exempt from sequestration.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Secretary Hagel:
We are writing to express our concern about the determination that civilian workers at entities funded through Defense Working Capital funds are subject to furloughs. It appears that there are substantial legal and economic questions surrounding the decision to impose furloughs on these employees.
We request an explanation as to whether the Department considers civilian employees at Working Capital fund entities to be "indirectly funded Government employees of the Department of Defense," as defined in 10 USC 129. If so, we further request an explanation of the legal justification the Department is using to impose furloughs on these civilian workers, despite the explicit protections afforded them under this statute.
Furthermore, while the Department sought to alleviate a shortfall in its operating funds for fiscal year 2013, we request the Department clarify its rationale in determining that furloughing these workers would reduce its operating expenses. Specifically, please provide the Department's estimate of the reduction in FY 2013 spending as a result of furloughing civilian workers at entities funded through Working Capital funds.
We are concerned that, in addition to the loss of pay these civilian employees now face and the subsequent impact this will have on our local communities, moving forward with these furloughs will reduce the ability of our civilian workforce to complete workload which is already funded. Further restricting available workforce resources will result in mission delays, eventual overtime, and greater cost to the Department and taxpayers.
We respectfully request your prompt attention to this important issue.
"Moving forward with these furloughs will reduce the ability of our civilian workforce which is already funded," Rigell said. "Further restricting available workforce resources will result in mission delays, eventual overtime, and greater cost to the Department and taxpayers."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fought back.
"If Congressman Rigell is looking for someone to blame for the furloughs that are hurting thousands of Hampton Roads military families, then he should look in the mirror," said David Bergstein of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Congressman Rigell is part of the problem – not only did he vote to create the sequester that led to these furloughs, he voted repeatedly against replacing sequester with a more balanced approach. It's no surprise that Congressman Rigell is looking for someone to blame, since his actions in Washington are directly responsible for the pain that Virginia families are now feeling."
This is not the first letter to be sent to Sec. Hagel regarded sequestration. In April Rigell and other Virginia Representatives asked Hagel to do whatever he could to avert furloughing DoD employees.
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