Military funding battle begins as Rep. Cuellar assumes post on defense spending committee

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Funding the nation’s military is always one of the more controversial discussions on Capitol Hill. Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was recently named to the House subcommittee that handles the spending legislation. He says this year is no different and the funding fight will be tough.

Congressman Cuellar (D-TX) says Democrats will pushback if money is taken from education and entitlements to fund the military.

"I certainly want to be supportive of our men and women in uniform, but the question is, how do we pay for all this?" said Cuellar.

He assumes his new post on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He says Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the White House, don’t actually know how they’ll pay for the big military spending bill set to come up later in the year.

"Contrary to what the establishment Republicans have been preaching is, let’s pay as we go, and if we’re going to spend a dollar here then we need to offset it or raise some money somewhere," said Cuellar.

He says he is proud to be the only Texas Democrat on the committee, being from a state with several military bases. As for working with Republicans on the committee, he hopes they can get along, but fears what he calls the “Trump Effect.”

"As we find a bipartisan approach, he’ll come in...and add another 40 or 50 billion dollars to the military," said Cuellar. "The question is, where do we come up with the money to pay for that?"

Cuellar says there will be Democratic pushback if that money is taken from things like education or entitlements. GOP members on the committee say the government spends too much money on those entitlements, and not enough on defense.

"In the short term, you have to defend the country, right here, right now," said Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK). "In the longer term...we have to have the courage to look at these entitlement reforms."

Cole says Democrats are usually the ones ready to spend money. Despite some differences, he thinks they can work together.

"I would think on the defense appropriations bill when it comes up with the supplemental, there will be quite a bit of bipartisanship," said Cole. "There always is on defense issues."

Cole says lawmakers will work on a supplemental spending package in the next couple of months which is an additional set of defense funding for this fiscal year.

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