FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Many civilian employees will return to work at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune this week.
Defense Department officials say the decision to recall the workers comes after a review of a law passed by Congress and signed by the president to ensure that military personnel are paid.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the law allows the recall of civilian workers if their jobs contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members. That includes employees who work in health care, commissaries and maintenance.
About 7,200 civilians were furloughed at Fort Bragg and hundreds more who work at Camp Lejeune were sent home last week in the dispute over the federal budget. The new law guarantees the pay of civilian defense workers, but there's no word yet on how federal contractors might be affected.
Fourth District Congressman David Price said the government shutdown must be resolved before next week's battle over the debt ceiling. If the standoff continues, he said, letting the country default on its debts could have global economic consequences.
"We've got to get through it. We know how to get through it," Price said. "First of all, the hostage-taking needs to stop. Congress needs to do its job in terms of keeping the government open and raising the debt limit so the country can pay its bills."
Meanwhile, the shutdown has eliminated federal benefits for about 2,400 North Carolina residents who have lost their jobs because their industries moved overseas.
Under the Federal Trade Act, such displaced workers are eligible for extended benefits, known as the Trade Readjustment Allowance, including cash assistance, subsidized health insurance and retraining for new careers.
The assistance ended last Tuesday, and affected families are now two weeks behind. State officials said money was released Monday and checks should go out this week to catch up, but there's no guarantee about next week if the shutdown continues.