Pentagon recalls workers, but no end to shutdown

Most of the 400,000 Pentagon staff sent home amid the US government shutdown have been ordered to return to work even as the deadlock over the federal budget between Republicans and Democrats entered its sixth day on Sunday. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the decision to recall the Pentagon employees was based on an initial interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act. A budget row over President Barack Obama’s showpiece “Obamacare” healthcare reform law between Republicans and Democrats has forced the closure of federal services since Tuesday. Both sides have now voted to approve back-pay for the 800,000 federal workers sent home without salaries.

In a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives on Saturday approved by 407-0 a bill to pay the federal workers once the shutdown ends. But there is still no sign of any deal on the federal budget or any measure to raise the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. Neither the House nor the Senate plans to meet again until Monday afternoon, meaning the shutdown will have lasted at least seven days. It has left federal employees on an unpaid leave and closed all national parks, tourist sites, official websites and office buildings. Congress must act by October 17 in order to avoid a debt default by the government. The government will run out of cash on that day for the first time in US history unless its debt ceiling is raised.

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