Some Hill workers back soon: Air Force materiel command employees authorized to return

Oct 7 2013 - 1:35pm

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Many employees here are authorized to return to work as soon as today.

A memo posted on the Hill Air Force Base official website states that all Air Force Materiel Command employees are authorized to return.

"In general, employees are expected to report within 24 hours," said the statement. Bargaining unit employees have an option for additional reporting time.

"For specific reporting information, all Hill furloughed employees should work through their respective chains of command," said the statement.

Andrea Mason, a spokeswoman for Hill Air Force Base, said there are 2,700 furloughed employees at Hill.

She said she was not sure how many of those workers the call-back included.

Those authorized to return, she said, would be contacted through an official recall roster.

"We have a strict chain of command in place for any emergency that comes up," Mason said.

The Pentagon announced Saturday that it would order almost all of its 350,000 civilian employees furloughed by the government shutdown back to work this week.

Pentagon officials said more than 90 percent of its furloughed employees are expected to return to work, under a decision made by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that the workers are needed to support the readiness of the military.

The action, supported by members of both parties, will leave about 450,000 of the federal government's 2.1 million civilian employees still on furlough.

In a rare Saturday session, Congress also took steps to relieve the financial concerns of workers who are facing a government shutdown with no end in sight.

The Republican-led House unanimously passed a bill that would offer workers full pay for the time they are not at their jobs during the shutdown.

While belittling the vote as a distraction that would offer employees "paid vacation," Democrats who control the Senate said they would pass the bill early next week, and President Barack Obama has said he would sign it.

Under a law passed by Congress just before the government shuttered last week, active duty military personnel and civilian Pentagon workers on the job will receive paychecks on time.

Other federal workers -- whether on furlough or on the job -- will see their paychecks delayed until the government shutdown ends, squeezing workers without a financial cushion, reports said.

The debate over the shutdown will likely blend this week with discussions about how to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, reports said.

Republicans are looking to craft a series of demands, perhaps including entitlement reforms and changes to the tax code, to make in exchange for lifting the debt limit, which is the legal cap on federal borrowing.

House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday said he didn't know when the government shutdown would end and said it's up to President Barack Obama to start negotiations.

The Ohio Republican said Sunday that he would not allow his GOP-led House to vote on a bill reopening the government or one on increasing the government's borrowing authority without serious talks about spending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or jfrancis@standard.net, or follow her on twitter

at @jfrancis.

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