Ryan: I’m a defense hawk

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Latinos say they didn't benefit from Trump tax cuts — here's why Conservative commentator rips Trump's signature tax overhaul: 'It was a big mistake' MORE (R-Wis.) sought Tuesday to burnish his credentials as a champion of a stronger military, saying during a radio interview that he favors building a bigger Navy. 

"I’m a defense hawk. I very much believe we need a bigger Navy, big time," the newly elected top House Republican said during an interview on "The Hugh Hewitt Show."

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"The South [and] East China seas — I mean, we can go on and on through the threat assessment," he added, referring to China's claims over artificial islands it is building in the region. 

Ryan also praised Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.  

He also praised a budget deal reached last week between the White House and congressional leadership that would lift spending caps for two years and allocate all but $5 billion requested by Congress and the White House for the Pentagon in 2016.  

"Like this budget deal or not, it did give us relief on defense. And what matters more for defense than 1 or 2 billion is predictability and certainty over a two-year cycle," he said. "So they’ve got some predictability to get us through the Obama days."