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U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (right) poses with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (center). Nirenberg was Cuellar's guest for the State of the Union address.
Construction projects at Joint Base San Antonio could fall under the budget ax if President Trump uses Defense Department money to fund his border wall, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar warned.
The Laredo Democrat, who sits on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, said Texas bases would be vulnerable if the White House re-directs $4 billion from DOD funds, something it's claimed Trump's recent emergency declaration allows.
"They're not going to say, 'Well, let's leave Texas alone or that other state alone,'" Cuellar told the Current
. "They'll spread the pain around, and that definitely could affect Joint Base San Antonio."
JBSA, one of the city's largest economic generators, includes the merged Fort Sam Houston, Randolph Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base and Martindale Army Airfield.
Cueller said he plans to discuss JBSA's vulnerability when he visits this week with San Antonio leaders including Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Even so, the Defense Department hasn't yet identified cuts, and Trump's plan faces congressional scrutiny and a spate of lawsuits. As that fight plays out, military and local leaders should forge ahead on projects to make them less expendable, Cuellar said.
"[The Department of Defense] is less likely to sweep projects where construction is already underway," he added. "My advice is to start digging, start building."
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