Nightly News   |  October 06, 2013

Thousands of furloughed employees return to work

More than 300,000 civilian Defense Department employees are returning to work as the government shutdown enters its second week. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> six days into the partial shutdown of the government, one big group of federal employees is headed back to work tonight while those who have the power to end the whole thing showed no sign they're any closer to doing so. here is the latest.

>> reporter: more than 300,000 civilian defense department employees once furloughed are headed back to work at the orders of defense secretary chuck hagel , including 3,000 at the pearl harbor shipyard in hawaii.

>> by saying that we get the retro pay and recalled in is a a huge relief.

>> but another roughly 400,000 workers are off the job. the president is urging them to re-open the government without trying to delay the health care law .

>> there are not the votes in the house to pass a clean cr.

>> reporter: they accused the speaker of playing politics and dared him to put the measure up for a vote.

>> put it on the floor monday or tuesday. i would bet there are the votes to pass it.

>> reporter: as many as 22 republicans would vote with democrats to open up the government with no strings attached. still, some republicans are blaming the president for refusing to negotiate.

>> they're the ones unwilling to compromise on any facet of obama care.

>> their view is not reasonable.

>> reporter: another crisis looms. when the u.s. will reach its debt limit on october 17th in just ten days running out of money to pay its bills. jack lew warns of dire economic consequences.

>> it's a place we've never gone. it's very dangerous.

>> reporter: there is broad agreement here in washington that a government funding bill will likely be linked to an increase in the debt limit. the problem is, no one seems to have a plan for making that happen.