On Friday, Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) told Breitbart News that President Obama was illegally furloughing approximately two thousand federal civilian defense contractors at Offutt Air Force Base, in direct contravention of the Pay Our Military Act, passed last week through Congress and signed by Obama himself. Those four thousand employees represent approximately two thirds of the civilian personnel at Offutt Air Force Base.
The Pay Our Military Act explicitly promises “such sums as are necessary to provide pay and allowances to the civilian personnel of the Department of Defense (and the Department of Homeland Security in the case of the Coast Guard) whom the Secretary concerned determines are providing support to members of the Armed Forces.” According to Terry, Congress intent was to keep support personnel on the job, especially given that US Strategic Command is operated out of Offutt Air Force Base. STRATCOM “integrates and coordinates the necessary command and control capability to provide support with the most accurate and timely information for the President, the Secretary of Defense, other National Leadership and regional combatant commanders.”
“I’m very upset with the White House decision to force furloughs, which I think are illegal furloughs because the law he signed last Saturday,” Terry told Breitbart News exclusively. “This is a political game that they’re playing, endangering this country. They’ve had to lay off over 60 percent of their civilian employees, who are all basically retired military who just keep the same jobs and become civilians. These are integral people to protecting our nuclear arsenal and to our military readiness. This is a dangerous game this president is playing.”
“Airplane mechanics are being furloughed,” a representative from Terry’s office stated. “How is that not critical to getting an airplane off the ground if we need to? This is an illegal furlough. The President is completely breaking the law. Congress passed it unanimously, he signed it into law, and now he’s breaking that very law.”
On Thursday, Terry penned a letter to Obama demanding that he bring the employees back to work: “I have been doing some research on this issue over the last couple of days. I have found that both the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have directed Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Jamie Morin to direct the combatant commands to hold the line and not allow anyone other than ‘excepted’ employees to work. This is contrary to what Congress intended and needs to be rectified as soon as possible….This is unacceptable and needs to be overruled. Mr. President, Congress specifically sent this bipartisan legislation to you for your signature, because we all believe that these hard working patriots should not be pawns in this chess game”
Terry concluded, “It is very important as Commander-in-Chief to direct all of the combat commands to follow the law and bring back the workers who have been furloughed and do it as soon as possible.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told Breitbart News exclusively, “President Obama is jeopardizing our national security just to play politics on this shutdown.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).