What will automatic budget cuts mean to vets?
Published: November 28, 2011
WASHINGTON — While most of the conversation surrounding the super committee’s deficit plan failure has focused on whether the Pentagon can handle another $600 billion in defense cuts, veterans groups worry that programs for separated military personnel could absorb a significant and unexpected hit as well.
For months, budget officials and veterans advocates have assumed that veterans retirement benefits and programs would be exempt from cuts, like Social Security and Railroad Retirement plans. But two weeks ago, officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs told lawmakers that federal budgeting officials haven’t specifically exempted the veterans programs, and they’re still waiting for clarification on what that could mean for their spending in coming years.
Under the terms Congress approved last in August, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts will go into effect for the fiscal 2013 federal budget, unless Congress find alternative solutions in coming months.
About $600 billion of that will come from security spending – accounts that are assumed to be Pentagon funds but could include VA monies – and the other $600 billion from non-security spending. The latter cut could affect veterans programs.
VA officials and House lawmakers said they expect the Office of Management and Budget to announce in coming weeks that veterans programs are exempt. But neither could promise that would happen, and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., admitted the lack of a definitive answer has left him concerned.
Initial plans for the Department of Veterans Affairs fiscal 2013 budget are expected to be released in early February.
What the heck is a Ruptured Duck?