Yesterday, at the request of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed that the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will not be affected by potential cuts included in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The OMB clarification comes after Senator Patty Murray (D-VA) wrote to GAO seeking clarification of a legal ambiguity in the act as it relates to veterans. The Senate committee had worked to include an exemption for veterans in the act and wanted to ensure that veterans’ benefits were, in fact, off the table.
This ruling by the OMB is widely seen to be a victory for veterans’ groups. Raymond Kelley, legislative director for the VFW, said in a statement: “Veterans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that VA programs are exempt from sequestration. There was a real fear that returning funds to the Treasury would cause VA to ration services and extend wait times for appointments as more service members return home from war.”