The government can’t incur any unauthorized debts. So there’s no money to pay the military and non-furloughed civilians, but they report to work. Furloughed civilians, on the other hand, aren’t allowed to work. Both groups get back pay regardless once funds are restored even though the government isn’t obligated to pay back pay to furloughed civilians.
They’ve promised pay, but they can’t let civilian employees return to work. If they’re going to pay people regardless, then why have ridiculous laws that say those employees can’t work? They already allow excepted employees and the military to continue to work without pay (with the promise to pay them later). Why the distinction? Why not just have the entire DoD report to work in the interest of national defense, especially when they’re all going to get paid regardless???