Accord might avert furloughs

Republican and Democratic leaders in the House reached an accord with the Bush administration on emergency funding for the administration’s global war on terrorism.

The House approved a measure last week that will likely forestall a controversial Defense Department contingency plan to furlough nonessential civilian employees in the absence of adequate supplemental funding.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England outlined a contingency plan for continuing operations if  Congress does not appropriate supplemental 2008 funding for the war on terrorism. In a June 9 memo, England gave DOD department heads until June 30 to estimate the number of employees who could be furloughed if Congress hasn’t appropriated the money.

A major portion of the Bush administration’s request for supplemental funding for the war on terror, including disputed appropriations for the war in Iraq, has stalled in Congress for more than 15 months. The House measure would provide $162 billion for the war on terrorism for the next 12 months.

England wrote that non-essential operations would be shut down if funding isn’t available. Civilian employees not engaged in those essential activities would be furloughed and put in a “nonwork, nonpay status,” according to the memo.

The American Federation of Government Employees, an employee union, called the memo a scare tactic.

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