OMB will exempt Military Personnel accounts from possible sequester

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

All Military Personnel Accounts will be exempt from across-the-board cuts if a sequester goes into effect on January 2, 2013.  In a letter to the Senate late last month, Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the president will “exempt all military personnel accounts from sequester for FY2013, if a sequester is necessary.” 

Zients said the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 authorizes such an exemption if Congress is notified by August 10.   Congress and DoD have routinely exempted Military Personnel accounts when implementing across-the board cuts to defense.

Zients and DoD leaders had indicated previously that the military personnel accounts would probably be exempt from sequester, but no official notice was made until the letter was sent to the Senate.

Exempting military personnel accounts will mean that cuts to other DoD accounts will be increased if sequester goes into effect.  Zients and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month that DOD accounts would be cut by 10 percent, assuming exemptions for military personnel accounts.

Because of the “devastating” effect on defense of such cuts, Zients and Carter urged Congress to take action to avert implementation of the across-the-board cuts.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has also warned Congress that the sequester’s “meat-axe approach” to cutting defense would “inflict severe damage on our national defense” and could produce a “hollowed-out force.”

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