When the Department of Defense announced it planned to furlough its 800,000 employees one day a week for 11 weeks, many thought the Pentagon would find a different way and it wouldn't last that long. But as our Brian Dwyer reports, not only will they stick, but the DOD is now looking at next year.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- "You don't turn a $600 billion institution around in three months,” said Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense.
With some 800,000 Department of Defense civilian employees currently losing 20 percent of their work week and pay until September, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said there's a chance they could be facing the same 11-week furlough next year.
Hagel said it is possible Washington lawmakers can agree on a budget deal by October first to squash sequestration, eliminating the need for the DOD to cut an additional $52 billion for the 2014 budget year; but, he's not counting on it.
"I hope that the Congress, the President, and Washington can come together before we start 2014. But, I can't lead this institution based on hope, based on I think, or based on maybe," Secretary Hagel said.
It’s a gloomy prediction that North Country Congressman Bill Owens shares.
"Clearly there are solutions out there. People just seem unwilling to do the tough works that it takes to get that done. I would cast that across the board on the leadership in Washington,” Rep. Owens said.
Owens said a lack of a deal hurts everyone and everything at each installation, including here at Fort Drum where 1,800 civilian employees are going through these furloughs.
"That will have effects on restaurants, on retailers, on car dealerships, on the buying of new homes. It will have broad ramifications and everyone should be concerned about this," Rep. Owens added.
Owens then paraphrased Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno when Odierno testified in front of Owens and other lawmakers at the Capital a few months ago, saying civilian employees are critical to mission and that means national security.
The civilian employee furloughs help the DOD save $2 billion of the needed $52 billion in cuts.