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Pentagon civilians face reduced unpaid leave due to funding bill, Hagel says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in Washington March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in Washington March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most of the Pentagon's nearly 800,000 civilian employees will be put on unpaid leave for 14 days this year, a reduction from the 22 days initially planned, after a new funding bill eased the strain on the Defense Department's budget, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Monday.

Hagel, speaking at a Pentagon news conference, said the department still faces a $22 billion shortfall in its operations account and would face some difficult funding cuts.

"We're going to have to deal with that reality and prioritize and make some cuts and do what we've got to do" to implement the more than $40 billion in defense cuts mandated by Congress and the president beginning on March 1, he said.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Will Dunham)

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