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It is the fifth day of the federal government shutdown began, members of the House came together in a moment of rare bipartisanship to pass a bill, by a vote of 407 to 0, approving back pay for furloughed government workers.
President Obama has expressed his support for the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid supports the measure, but said Saturday that if furloughed workers are guaranteed back pay, there’s no reason to keep them out of work.
“It’s really cruel to tell workers they’ll receive back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government,” Reid said on the Senate floor, suggesting that House Republicans have authorized a “paid vacation” for furloughed workers.
The Department of Defense is ordering most of its furloughed civilian employees back to work, in a move announced just after midday Saturday. The plan will put hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job next week.
"Today, I am announcing that most DoD civilians placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.
Hagel said he believes the Pentagon can "significantly reduce — but not eliminate — civilian furloughs under this process," Defense News reports.
The recall would affect "most of the some 400,000 civilian Defense Department employees sent home during the government shutdown," Reuters reports, citing a U.S. Defense official.
Administration officials now live in fear of a 19th-century law that could get them fired, penalized or even imprisoned if they make the wrong choices while the government is shut down.
The law is the Antideficiency Act, passed by Congress in 1870 (and amended several times), which prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which Congress has not appropriated funds.