S.A. delegation seeks budget help with military spending

February 5, 2015
In The News

San Antonio Express News - By Bill Lambrecht, Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — In their annual journey to Washington, San Antonio business and community leaders are pressing Congress for a budget deal that would lift spending caps that threaten cutbacks at local military installations.

A group of San Antonians were told at the Pentagon that continued automatic limits in military spending would pose a host of problems for military personnel, including units forced to stand down.

“They were very, very sober about the implications,” Henry Cisneros said Wednesday, recounting meetings a day earlier with Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh and other military brass.

Given the heavy military presence in San Antonio, local leaders are conveying those concerns in meetings on Capitol Hill.

The delegation of more than 130 local leaders arrived Monday, the day the Obama administration released a new budget proposal that would ease spending caps ordered by Congress four years ago.

The president’s $4 trillion spending plan would increase spending levels by $74 billion above the mandated limits, $38 billion of which would go to defense.

The proposal was the opening round in a process that in recent years has collapsed into partisan bickering, resulting in continuing resolutions that locked previous spending priorities in place.

The San Antonio leaders are hoping for a different outcome this year, one in which the White House and a new GOP-run Congress reach a budget compromise.

“Some of the folks who manage things at our bases tell us they are getting squeezed; they’re hurting,” San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez said.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, said he sees “an appetite to figure out how we can increase the level of military readiness. Those kinds of conversations are happening. I think we’re going to figure out how to get it done and also deal with the debt issue.”

Cisneros sounded less optimistic. “One gets the sense that we (Republicans and Democrats) are staring at each other without a clear sense of who makes the first move and how we work our way through this,” he said.