The Budget Control Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs' Programs
B-323157, May 21, 2012
Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, requested a GAO opinion on the Budget Control Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs programs. The Budget Control Act, amending the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA), provides for a sequestration of discretionary and direct spending on January 2, 2013. The request arises because of an apparent conflict between two provisions of BBEDCA section 255(b), exempting all VA programs from sequestration, and section 256(e), limiting reductions to the veterans medical care account to two percent.
GAO concluded that all VA programs, including veterans medical care, are exempt from sequestration. Section 255(b), enacted in the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, is the more recent expression of congressional intent, and thus takes precedence over section 256(e), which was enacted as part of BBEDCA in 1985. We note, however, that administrative expenses incurred in connection with VA programs may be subject to sequestration. The execution and impact of any spending reductions will depend on the legal interpretations and actions taken by the Office of Management and Budget, which is vested with implementing the Budget Control Act.