SALT LAKE CITY — Pentagon officials say budgets cuts will force most of its civilian workforce to take 11 unpaid leave days this year to help make up for a $30 billion shortfall in the defense budget.
“I tried everything,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a town hall meeting Tuesday in northern Virginia. “We did everything we could not to get to this day this way. But that's it. That's where we are."
Utah Rep. Rob Bishop said Wednesday the 11-day furloughs could be worse.
“Originally it said it was going to be 22 days, now it’s down to 14, now they said it’s going to be 11 days starting just about the Fourth of July. That’s better news, but I’m certainly not ecstatic about the news,” he said.
These furloughs will save an estimated $1.8 billion and affect more than 600,000 civilian Defense Department workers, according to the Department of Defense. Bishop said there was still enough flexibility in the budget to change things around.
The Pentagon has already cut back on training and deployments and will soon stop flying about one-third of the Air Force's combat squadrons in the active forces, including members of Hill Air Force Base’s 388th Fighter Wing.
Under pressure from military leaders and members of Congress, the Navy will be able to avoid furloughs for tens of thousands of workers at shipyards.
Bishop also questioned why some positions with the Navy are not being furloughed.
Contributing: Associated Press
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