Hagel Takes a Pay Cut in Show of Solidarity With DoD Workers

Mike O'Brien

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is taking a pay cut in an act of solidarity with up to 750,000 civilian Pentagon workers who face the prospect of furloughs.

Pentagon spokesman George Little announced on Tuesday that Mr. Hagel will return a portion of his $200,000 salary in line with the 14 unpaid days off that many employees have to take.

The furloughs, part of the savings forced by automatic spending cuts, was last week cut from 22 days, which Mr. Little said he hoped would lessen the financial burden on those affected.

Because Mr. Hagel was appointed by President Obama and was confirmed by the Senate, he is exempt from the cost-cutting measures. Nevertheless he wanted to send out a message of support to others.

Mr. Little said: "The Secretary plans to subject his pay to furlough levels even though he is not required to. We understand that we need to take great care with our civilian workforce."

He added that the Department of Defense has yet to decide exactly who will be getting furlough notices, but warned that nearly everyone should be prepared to lose some pay beginning in June.

He said: "We expect the vast majority of civilians, at least at this point, to be subject to furlough. We are working through all the analytics on the number of civilian employees who we expect, regrettably, to have to furlough in the coming weeks, including me. I don’t know that we’ve arrived at a specific number yet."

Uniformed personnel have already been told they are exempt and any civilian workers considered vital to national security, such as those deployed to Afghanistan, will not be affected.

Mr. Little admitted it was highly unlikely that Congress and the White House would come up with a plan to avoid furloughs, but said no one would be left in the dark about the drastic measures.

"We are obliged to give adequate notice to our civilian employees as to whether they are going to be furloughed or not," Little said. "This is not something that you get a notice one day and a furlough the next. We will commit to communicating on a regular basis with our civilian employees on their particular situation and our policies overall."

Mr. Hagel's pay cut, however, will hardly put a dent in his bank balance. Financial disclosure statements that he filed with the Senate before his confirmation hearing in January showed that the Pentagon chief is worth between $3 million and $6 million. He became a multi-millionaire after co-founding Vanguard Cellular in the 1980s, Time.com reports.

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