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Pentagon Will Curb Number Of Furlough Days For Civilians

The Pentagon will reduce the number of furlough days its civilian employees will have to take because of sharp budget cuts mandated by law.

The AP reports that employees will have to take 14 unpaid days off over the next few months instead of the 22 the Pentagon had originally estimated.

The change comes because when Congress passed a bill that funded the government through the end of 2013, it shifted some money around giving the Pentagon more flexibility on how it made the cuts mandated by the so-called sequester.

The AP reports:

"According to defense officials, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision Wednesday, as military service chiefs and defense leaders continued to work through the details, trying to prioritize how they will allocate the more than $10 billion that Congress, in an attempt to take some of the sting out of the across-the-board budget cuts, shifted to operations and maintenance accounts. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of the public announcement.

"While some of the military services initially considered eliminating the furloughs altogether, senior leaders argued that since not all the services could do that, it would be better to treat all civilians across the defense department equally."

NPR's Tom Bowman tells us the Department of Defense will also reinstate tuition assistance for service members.

"DoD agrees with Congress that the tuition assistance program is very important, both to the department and our service members," Defense spokesman Mark Wright said in a statement.

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