No progress in resolving impasse on US shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) - A large chunk of the 800,000 furloughed federal employees will soon be returning to work, but a resolution to the budget impasse that led to a partial government shutdown is nowhere in sight, with both sides sticking to their positions.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered nearly all 350,000 furloughed Defence Department civilian employees back on the job. Mr Hagel said he based his decision on a Pentagon interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act, which was passed shortly before the partial government shutdown began. Republican lawmakers had complained in recent days that the Obama administration was slow to bring back those workers even though the law allowed it.
The federal government was partially shut down on Oct 1, the first day of the new budget year, after Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a plan to continue funding federal agencies. House Republicans are demanding significant changes to President Barack Obama's signature health care law in exchange for reopening the government, a demand that Democrats say is absurd.
Since Oct 1, the Republican-led House of Representatives has passed several Bills to reopen selected parts of the government. Democratic leaders are rejecting the piecemeal approach, saying the entire government should be reopened and the 800,000 federal workers on furlough put back to work.