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Defense Secretary Hagel to take voluntary sequester pay cut

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) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will take a voluntary pay cut as a show of solidarity with Pentagon employees who will have to take unpaid time off over the coming months, a Defense Department spokesman said on Tuesday.

Hagel will give back the equivalent of 14 days' pay to the government, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. That would come to about $10,750, based on Hagel's salary of $199,700.

"My understanding is that there is a legal way to actually write a check, if you will, back to the U.S. Treasury," Little told reporters.

Most of the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees will have to take 14 days of unpaid leave as it implements more than $40 billion in spending cuts before the fiscal year ends on September 30 as part of a blunt budget-cutting effort known as "the sequester" that will affect a broad range of government operations.

Republicans and Democrats set up the sequester in 2011 as a worst-case scenario that would force them to find other ways to narrow trillion-dollar budget deficits, but they have been unable to do so.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and David Alexander; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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