Mandatory furloughs for Defense Department civilian employees are taking a bite out of paychecks on both sides of Interstate 5.
About 850 employees of the Washington National Guard - headquartered at Camp Murray in Lakewood - are scheduled to take 11 unpaid days off from this week through the end of September, just like their counterparts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the other side of the freeway.
The National Guard received four furlough exemptions, one for a sexual assault prevention coordinator. But the furlough impacts are deep and will cut into maintenance, training and morale, Washington Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said.
"While we're doing what we can to keep our offices open, there's no doubt the Washington National Guard and the Military Department will feel the impacts of these furloughs, " she wrote in an email.
The furloughs do not affect activated guardsmen or some Guard units performing ongoing military activities.
The Western Air Defense Sector, for example, will continue scanning the skies west of the Mississippi River for signs of security threats. The Washington Air National Guard program is based at McChord Air Field.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 civilian employees at Lewis-McChord are starting their furloughs. They expect to lose 20 percent of their pay over the next 11 weeks.
Puget Sound area lawmakers are calling on Congress to pass a budget that would replace the forced federal spending cuts known as sequestration. Those cuts cost the Pentagon about $40 billion this year and would reduce defense spending by $500 billion over the next decade.
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