Broad Latitude

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to use the authority given to Hagel through the Pay Our Military Act signed by President Obama on Sept. 30 to “keep our national security running, rather than keeping defense civilians at home when they are authorized to work.” In an Oct. 1 letter to Hagel, McKeon stated that the legislation—passed unanimously by Congress—enables “most civilian defense workers” to remain on the job and continue to get paid on time. The letter came in response to comments Hagel made that same day in South Korea, indicating that Pentagon legal counsel was studying the legislation in the hopes of expanding the number of Defense Department civilian employees exempted from furloughs during the government shutdown. “I believe the legislation provides you broad latitude and I encourage you to use it,” wrote McKeon. He also requested additional information from DOD regarding pay and allowances for the National Guard and Reserve.