Aug 8, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Armed Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) led a group of eight members of Congress in an effort to prevent civilian employees of the Defense Department (DoD) who are paid through Defense Working Capital Funds (DWCF) – such as those at FRC East – from being subjected to furloughs in the future.  In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the bipartisan coalition explained that a measure exempting these employees from furloughs was included in the House version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and should be included in the final version of the legislation. 

Despite the fact that Defense Working Capital Funds are designed to be self-sustaining and not dependent upon appropriated accounts, the DoD decided not to consider DWCF workers to be “indirectly funded government employees of the Department of Defense” under 10 USC 129, a classification which would have provided legal protections to prevent them from being furloughed as a result of sequestration.  Because of this narrow interpretation of the law, DWCF employees were furloughed for 11 days this year along with the rest of the DoD civilian workforce. 

“Including this provision in the final defense appropriations bill is absolutely necessary to prevent our military readiness from again being harmed by the effects of unnecessary furloughs, which only delay the work of the dedicated employees of FRC East and depots around the country on projects that have already received funding,” said Congressman Jones.  “Furthermore, it will ensure that individuals paid through Defense Working Capital Funds enjoy the legal protections that they rightfully deserve.”

While the number of furlough days for Fiscal Year 2013 has been cut from 11 to 6, there is still a possibility that furloughs will be implemented during the next fiscal year as a result of sequestration.  Congressman Jones has been a leader in the effort to allow the DoD flexibility in achieving the mandatory budget cuts, speaking out on several occasions against the use of furloughs for civilian employees and supporting multiple bills to attain equivalent cost-savings through alternative methods.  He also urged President Barack Obama to heed the request of the Secretary of the Navy to eliminate civilian furloughs for the Department of the Navy, an appeal that the president ultimately denied.  Congressman Jones voted against the 2011 bill that created sequestration and has consistently warned against its negative impact on the military.

The full text of the letter is available at the link below.