VA exempt from automatic cuts, White House says

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget is exempt from the threat of automatic cuts to federal spending scheduled to be made next year, the White House said Monday afternoon.

The statement was made in a letter Monday from the Office of Management and Budget in response to a request in March from the Government Accountability Office seeking the White House view.

The letter, from OMB deputy general counsel Steven D. Aitken, says that “all programs administered by the VA, including Veterans’ Medical Care, are exempt from sequestration.”

Veterans groups had feared that medical care or other programs for veterans could be cut because last year’s failure to reach a deal on reducing the federal deficit is supposed to trigger automatic cuts under a sequestration mechanism.

Uncertainty over the VA’s status had sparked criticism on Capitol Hill, where the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), accused the White House of leaving veterans “twisting in the wind” by refusing to declare the department exempt from the cuts.

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