Civilian federal employment at the Defense Department would be cut along with the planned reductions in military personnel in coming years under a House-Senate agreement announced Tuesday evening.

Conferees on the annual DoD authorization bill meanwhile modified the provision, which has been estimated to mean a cut in federal employee positions at the department of about 5 percent, or some 36,000 positions, over five years. A similar percentage reduction would apply to employment by defense contractors.

According to a summary released by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, the compromise language “requires a percentage reduction in the civilian and service contractor employee workforces that is proportional to the reduction in military end strength over a five-year period but stipulates that it must be implemented in compliance with Total Force Management statutes and policy.”

The job-cutting language originated on the Senate side, where sponsor John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued that as military personnel are drawn down, the civilian side of the department should be similarly reduced. The Senate defeated an amendment seeking to delete the provision while passing its bill.

A group of Washington area House members had asked House conferees to reject the cut. An unusual alliance of the largest federal employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees, and a trade group representing contractors, the Professional Services Council, also opposed it.