Military personnel would once again have their pay exempted from automatic budget cuts at the Defense Department, should Congress fail to enact a plan to avert sequestration in fiscal 2014.
President Obama will exempt military personnel accounts from sequestration during the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell said in a letter to Vice President Joe Biden -- who also serves as president of the Senate -- and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. The White House -- which also exempted military pay in fiscal 2013 -- was legally required to announce by Aug. 10 its intention to exempt the pay.
“This is considered to be in the national interest to safeguard the resources necessary to compensate the men and women serving to defend our nation and to maintain the force levels required for national security,” Burwell wrote.
Burwell also noted the exemption would put a larger strain on all other accounts in the Defense Department, which would have to shoulder the entire $52 billion in required cuts in fiscal 2014. If Congress does not strike a deal to offset sequestration by Sept. 30, the budget caps will automatically take effect.
While military personnel accounts would be spared, Defense civilians would be affected. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the department is “hoping to avoid” furloughs in fiscal 2014, but would likely have to lay off employees.