House panel schedules hearing over Pentagon civilian furloughs

Republican lawmakers argue that the law, which is the topic of next Thursday’s hearing, was intended to allow all Pentagon civilians to be exempted and continue working in a shutdown.

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The Pentagon has not taken that step. Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE said earlier this week that Pentagon lawyers were looking at the law to determine whether any more civilians could be brought back to work.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Hagel on Tuesday asking for clarification on the Pentagon’s position and urging the department to use “broad latitude” in interpreting the law.

Roughly half of the Pentagon’s 800,000 civilian workforce have been furloughed due to the government shutdown.

The hearing does not yet have any witnesses scheduled.