A Utah congressman may have spoken too soon when he said unpaid furloughs for 82,500 Air Force Logistics Command workers are a dead issue.
AFLC spokesmen said Friday that the furloughs won't be canceled until commanders are assured they have the additional money approved by Congress in hand."Although the details won't be announced for several days, I am confident that we can call the furlough and layoff proposal a dead issue," Rep. James V. Hansen, R-Utah, said during a news conference at the Ogden, Utah, logistics center at Hill Air Force Base.
A Hansen aide who would not let his name be used said Hansen was optimistic because his legislation to allow additional transfers of money by the secretary of defense appeared to have cleared all hurdles in a House-Senate conference committee.
It is almost certain to be part of the defense spending authorization bill that is to be voted on soon, Hansen said.
The AFLC is looking for authority to transfer $90.6 million into operating and maintenance accounts to avoid the furloughs, spokesman Ron Fry said.
"We here at logistics command have not received any official word through our channels," he said.
The four-day furloughs still are planned to begin sometime after Aug. 1, he said. The furloughs are designed to help deal with a $300 million shortfall between what the AFLC requested in budget authority and what Congress authorized.
"We cannot announce that there will be no furloughs until we receive the money," said Col. Alan V. Cummings of the AFLC. "We're working hard to avert them."
The AFLC already has shortened the planned furloughs from 10 days and delayed them several times.
Mary Beth Carozza, an aide to Rep. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, whose district includes the command's headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said a Pentagon aide told her Hansen's bill might help in future years, but a reprogramming request for this year still must be approved by the House and Senate armed services and appropriations committees.
Cummings and Hansen's aide agreed with that. Only the House Appropriations Committee has approved the request.
Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, said this week that he believed he had the votes on the other committees to obtain passage of the request, possibly next week.
The logistics command has about 7,300 workers at Wright-Patterson and 1,200 at the Newark Air Force Station in Ohio.
It also operates major centers at Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas; Oklahoma City; Warner Robins, Ga.; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson; and Battle Creek, Mich.