WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore have jointly signed a letter to federal employees Saturday, "saluting their dedication" to the federal work force.
Excerpts from the letter, which was being faxed to all federal agencies and will be distributed to employees:
-- "Through no fault of your own, you have been forced to carry on in very difficult circumstances -- some of you on furlough, and more of you unpaid, all of you doubtless unsettled. Although the continuing resolutions signed today provide neither a satisfactory nor a complete resolution to the current budget dispute, we have succeeded in returning all of you to work with retroactive pay."
-- "And if there is any positive outcome to the pain and hardship you have undergone for the past weeks, it is that your fellow Americans have been made painfully aware of the importance of your work."
-- "Let us be clear: There was absolutely no excuse for this shutdown. We and the Republicans in Congress have differing views on how to balance the budget, and that's why we are engaged in negotiations. But there was no justification for this government to be closed while negotiations progress."
-- "Once again, many of the men and women who make up our federal government were held hostage with your paychecks delayed and your security threatened during the holiday season. You were put unfairly in the middle of a battle you did not seek. But -- whether you were furloughed or working -- by your commitment and your sacrifice, you continued to serve our nation as loyally as ever during this crisis."
-- "We salute your dedication, and we thank you."
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