Barrow introduces bill to eliminate civilian defense furloughs



U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., introduced legislation Tuesday that would exempt Fort Gordon’s civilian work force from the 11-day furlough the Department of Defense began enforcing Monday to save $1.8 billion by the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

“Folks in the 12th District are facing furloughs because Congress can’t get its act together long enough to replace these reckless cuts with more responsible savings,” Barrow said in a statement. “My legislation keeps civilian employees on the job and forces the DoD to find cuts elsewhere in the budget.”

House Bill 2613 would amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to give President Obama the authority to grant furlough exemptions to all civilian employees in the Department of Defense.

The Pentagon approved 88 hours of unpaid leave for its civilian employees in May to make up $37 billion in cuts from sequestration that kicked in March 1 and cut $20 billion in operations and maintenance accounts.

At Fort Gordon, the time off is expected to affect more than 3,000 employees between now and Sept. 30, including 35 security guards whose absence has led to major traffic delays at the Army post’s clearance gates.

Barrow said the bill has been referred to the House Budget Committee and that he is actively seeking support.

Also Tuesday, Barrow introduced a second bill, H.R. 2614, to exempt civilian defense employees from furloughs if they’ve served on active duty in the armed forces on or after the passage of the Budget Control Act.

As he traveled throughout the 12th District, Barrow said he spoke with servicemen and servicewomen who served overseas, only to return home and receive furlough papers.

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