Following a bipartisan compromise in the Senate, President Obama signed legislation Oct. 16 officially ending the federal shutdown. According to a statement released by the Pentagon, that means about 4,000 civilian Defense Department employees who remained on furlough can return to work this week.
The Pentagon also stated that the legislation requires that all furloughed employees receive the payments they missed during the shutdown.
While half of the Department of Defense's civilian employees – about 400,000 total – were initially furloughed Oct. 1, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recalled most of the workers the following week after Congress passed legislation that appropriated funds for active-duty military personnel. Hagel took a liberal interpretation of the law, expanding it to include a majority of civilian defense employees, The Associated Press reported at the time. However, there was some confusion about the law among Defense Department civilians.
"I saw it on the news, that our boss Chuck Hagel had called us back, so I assumed he was talking about me," Mike Ferrigno, a facilities management specialist working in public works for the Navy, told CNN. "I was one of the only ones in the office that first day."
According to the Pentagon, the newly passed legislation will keep the federal government open through Jan. 15, while the debt limit is raised through Feb. 7.