Arsenal furloughs reduced but still coming

Sequester

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Defense Department employees are getting a little bit of a reprieve.

Workers now face 11 days of furloughs, cut down from an expected 14 days, Defense Department Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce Tuesday afternoon.

The Pentagon is the nation’s largest federal agency and has to cut as much as $41 billion by Sept. 30 because of forced spending cuts that went into effect on March 1.

After initially warning that its civilian workforce would have to take as many as 22 days of unpaid time off, the Pentagon in March said Congress gave it enough financial flexibility to cut furlough days to 14. On Tuesday, it was able to prune that further to 11, a defense department official confirmed for CNN.

Hagel is expected to explain later today how Defense was able to trim its furlough days.

Defense employs 800,000 civilian workers, most of whom are expected to be impacted. Law enforcement workers will be among the few that are expected to avoid furloughs.

The news is just the latest of a federal agency managing to cut furloughs. Last week, the Department of Education told its employees they wouldn’t have to take unpaid leave. Earlier, meat inspectors and air traffic controllers also got their furloughs revoked by Congress.

In the meantime, employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal Public Defenders office and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among others, are all being forced to take unpaid time off work this month.

The $85 billion in forced federal spending cuts called sequester has forced brutal cuts on programs like Headstart, which helps lower income families prepare young children for school, and Meals on Wheels, which helps feed poor seniors.

Statement from Congressman Dave Loebsack:

“The men and women working at Rock Island Arsenal stand up for our country and support our troops day after day.  It is unconscionable that they and their families will be forced to take a pay cut because Congress and the Administration can’t work together to replace the arbitrary cuts caused by sequestration.  Forcing middle class families and the Quad Cities economy to pay for Washington’s dysfunction is reprehensible.

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