The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has notified Congress that Military Personnel accounts will be exempt from across-the-board cuts if sequestration is implemented in FY2016.

In a letter to the House and Senate this week, OMB Director Shaun Donovan said the president intends “to exempt all military personnel accounts, including Coast Guard personnel accounts, from any discretionary cap sequestration in FY 2016, if a sequestration is necessary.”

Donovan said the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 authorizes such an exemption if Congress is notified by August 10.   The president also exempted military personnel accounts from sequestration in FY2013 and FY2014. Congress and DoD have routinely exempted Military Personnel accounts when implementing across-the board cuts to defense budgets.

Exempting military personnel accounts will mean that cuts to other DoD accounts will be increased if sequester goes into effect, Donovan noted. Unless an agreement is reached to stop sequestration, OMB, in its report on sequestration issued in February, estimated the FY2016 defense spending cap would be reduced by $53 billion. The report also sets the potential cuts to nondefense accounts at $37 billion.

Donovan said 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.”

DoD Secretary Ash Carter has warned Congress that if sequestration returns in FY2016 “our nation would be less secure.” Carter also said that he would join other senior administration officials in recommending the president veto any bill that “locks in sequestration,” because it would be “unsafe and wasteful.”