The bill concerning military pay was the only piece of legislation that Congress passed -- and Obama signed -- in the run-up to the midnight deadline on Monday. According to the text, it would pay the Armed Forces, as well as civilian and contractor personnel deemed to be "providing support" to the Armed Forces.
Nevertheless, the Pentagon determined that 400,000 were "not necessary" to that mission and sent them home on Monday. According to a document circulated in the Pentagon, they will be considered "non-pay, non-duty" until the budget standoff is over.
Asked about McKeon's letter, a senior Defense official indicated there was no way to respond. "Unfortunately, most of the staff who draft congressional correspondence are furloughed," the official told Fox News.
Pentagon officials have indicated a willingness to examine the law to see if there's any wiggle room to bring more civilians back to work.
Republicans argue that the intent of the law was to keep them on the job, and that the Obama administration "narrowly interpreted" it against congressional intent in order to furlough more employees.
It's one example of how, Republicans say, the administration is making the partial shutdown of government services worse than it needs to be. Many have complained about the National Park Service cordoning off even open-air monuments in Washington, D.C., such as the World War II Memorial.