Most US Defense Department civilians who were placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work next week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Saturday.
Pentagon and Justice Department attorneys concluded that the law allows the Defense Department to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of military service members, Hagel said in directing that employees under these categories be identified.
"I expect us to be able to significantly reduce, but not eliminate, civilian furloughs under this process," Hagel said.
The six-day-old shutdown has left more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed since Tuesday, and about half of those are civilians working for the Pentagon.
Earlier in the day, the House passed a bill providing back pay to federal workers who were furloughed, but it was not known if the Senate would vote on the bill. White House officials on Friday had said President Barack Obama would sign such legislation.