31 Members of Congress Send Letter to Defense Demanding Answers on Furloughs


A bipartisan group of 31 House members sent a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently demanding answers on the proposed furloughs of thousands of Defense Working Capital Fund (DWCF) employees.

Unlike other Defense employees that are funded by Congressional appropriations, DWCF workers are funded by income generated through services rendered. Many NFFE facilities with DWCF projects, such the Letterkenny Army Depot, Red River Army Depot, and the Watervliet Arsenal, are being unfairly subject to furloughs despite being fully funded.

If workers at these facilities are sent home for the mandatory 11 furlough days, projects will be seriously delayed, costing taxpayers more than if they were kept on the job in the first place. It may cost even more, in fact, since overtime would have to be used to make up for lost productivity at some facilities.

“Sequestration is just another instance of a misguided, one-size-fits-all policy designed to make a political statement,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “Common sense needs to prevail here. There is no excuse – moral, fiscal, or otherwise – to furlough these dedicated Defense employees, and we applaud these members of Congress for taking a stand to protect them.”

NFFE’s Legislative Department has been pushing this issue on Capitol Hill for months, educating members from both parties on the importance of stopping furloughs. This letter was a good step in the right direction, but we cannot win this struggle alone. If our efforts are unsuccessful, furloughs will begin for more than 650,000 employees starting July 8th. 

We need your help. Call your member of Congress using the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to put a stop to Defense furloughs. Please remember to call on your own time, using your own phone, and do so as a constituent.

Read the Full Text of the Letter Below:

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We are writing to express our concern about the determination that civilian workers at entities funded through Defense Working Capital funds are subject to furloughs. It appears that there are substantial legal and economic questions surrounding the decision to impose furloughs on these employees.

We request an explanation as to whether the Department considers civilian employees at Working Capital fund entities to be “indirectly funded Government employees of the Department of Defense,” as defined in 10 USC 129. If so, we further request an explanation of the legal justification the Department is using to impose furloughs on these civilian workers, despite the explicit protections afforded them under this statute.

Furthermore, while the Department sought to alleviate a shortfall in its operating funds for fiscal year 2013, we request the Department clarify its rationale in determining that furloughing these workers would reduce its operating expenses. Specifically, please provide the Department’s estimate of the reduction in FY 2013 spending as a result of furloughing civilian workers at entities funded through Working Capital funds.  

We are concerned that, in addition to the loss of pay these civilian employees now face and the subsequent impact this will have on our local communities, moving forward with these furloughs will reduce the ability of our civilian workforce to complete workload which is already funded. Further restricting available workforce resources will result in mission delays, eventual overtime, and greater cost to the Department and taxpayers.

We respectfully request your prompt attention to this important issue.


Derek Kilmer
Adam Smith
Scott Rigell
Tom Cole
Betty McCollum
Dave Loebsack
Rob Bishop
Walter Jones
James Lankford
Austin Scott
Tom Marino
Mo Brooks
Mike Roger (AL)
Cheri Bustos
Blake Farenthold
Bill Shuster
Matt Cartwright
Lou Barletta
Tim Griffin
James McGovern
Tom Cotton
Todd Young
Mike Turner
Filemon Vela
Sanford Bishop
Emanuel Cleaver
Julia Brownley
Ralph Hall
Paul Cook
Markwayne Mullin
Paul Tonko