Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will give up a portion of his salary this year in solidarity with Department of Defense employees who must face 14 days of furloughs.
“The secretary plans to subject his pay to furlough levels even though he is not required to because he is a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed official in this department,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Hagel earns just under $200,000 a year from the federal government. Since Hagel is a political appointee rather than a career bureaucrat, he will still get paid, but he has opted to write the Treasury a check for 14 days worth of his salary. Before Hagel was confirmed to become Secretary of Defense, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter had already announced that he would also give up a portion of his salary.
“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,” Little said. “I don’t know that we’ve arrived at a specific number yet.”
There are 750,000 employees who are eligible to be furloughed one day a week for 14 weeks, amounting to a 20 percent pay cut. Civil employees serving in Afghanistan and military personnel wearing a uniform are among those exempt from the defense cuts.
The White House and Congress still have the ability to draft a plan that would remove the budget cuts altogether, but such a scenario is not likely. The defense cuts came as part of the automatic sequester cuts that Congress failed to avoid earlier in the year. The Pentagon has been tasked with accepting a budget cut of 46 billion, roughly nine percent of its operating budget. The budget cuts do not prevent the military from operating overseas as escalations on the Korean Peninsula have shown, but they shrink the salaries of domestic civilian workers and, now, Chuck Hagel.