White House Again Requests Military Pay be Exempted from Sequestration Cuts

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Military personnel won't see their paychecks cut if Congress fails to reach an agreement to end sequestration by the end of September.

The White House notified Congress last week that the Department of Defense's military personnel accounts will be exempted from sequestration cuts, just as they were this year. That means the Pentagon will be forced to find some $52 billion in savings in other areas, including maintenance, training, equipment, and operational accounts that pay for civilian workers.

The Pentagon spends about $154 billion annually on pay and benefits for military personnel.

In a letter to Vice President Joseph Biden in his role as president of the Senate, Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell wrote the exemption 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."

However, Burwell warns, "this action would trigger a higher reduction in non-exempt accounts."

While military payroll won't be impacted by sequestration cuts in 2014, they, too, will feel the pinch of growing austerity. The White House is proposing a 1 percent pay increase for military troops, the smallest amount of requested increase since the formation of an all-volunteer force. They must also deal with cutbacks in facilities and training, as well as limitations to some family support programs.

"As predicted, sequestration's impacts on the department's operations have been very unfortunate and far-reaching," Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress said last week.

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