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Defense Department announces 11 days of furloughs, beginning in July

An estimated 24,000 Oklahoma civilian workers will lose two days of work per period through the end of the fiscal year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says.
by Chris Casteel Modified: May 15, 2013 at 9:53 am •  Published: May 14, 2013

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said it was “shameful and irresponsible” that Defense Department civilians were being furloughed, and he blamed the Obama administration for not planning for the budget cuts.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also objected to the fact workers at repair depots, such as the one at Tinker, were not exempted. He called the decision “shortsighted” and said it would further hurt the military's readiness.

A memo from Hagel released by the Pentagon says Navy shipyard workers will be exempt from the furloughs but that all other depot workers are subject to them.

In all, about 120,000 civilians are expected to be exempted, including ones in combat zones and others involved in the safety of life and property.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, whose district includes Altus and Vance Air Force bases, called the furlough decision “deeply troubling.”

“As we continue to fight a war in Afghanistan, cuts to our military personnel are the last thing our country needs,” Lucas said. “We must continue to fund the military in order to protect each and every American citizen. Our national defense should not be put in jeopardy due to Congress' inability to make commonsense spending cuts.”

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said he was disappointed Pentagon leaders “were unable to find places to make cuts that do not harm workers.”

“The Defense Department is extremely adept at being prepared, meeting deadlines and implementing fallback plans, so I am puzzled as to why the department found it unavoidable to cut workers instead of waste. Other agencies ... have found ways — or sought congressional affirmation that they have the flexibility — to make cuts to wasteful administrative costs, not employees with families to support.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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