McCain questions Trump budget pick's support for military

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain argues with Andrew Yang about free marriage counseling proposal Veterans groups hand out USS John McCain shirts on National Mall during Trump speech Trump is still on track to win reelection MORE (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that President Trump’s pick to lead the White House budget office was an “impediment” to supporting the U.S. military, questioning whether he took the issue seriously.

McCain called out Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, for a series of votes he made against increasing military funding and in favor of pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Europe.

“Maybe you don’t take it with the seriousness that it deserves,” McCain said of supporting the military during Mulvaney’s hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“It’s clear from your record that you’ve been an impediment to that,” said McCain.

Mulvaney has opposed major defense spending boosts before, while McCain and other defense hawks have supported them.

Mulvaney on Tuesday promised to support Trump’s pledge to expand the military and defended his previous votes against funding as efforts to increase government transparency.

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But McCain targeted Mulvaney’s votes to pull troops from Afghanistan and Europe as well as his previous support for the House push to delay ObamaCare in 2013 that resulted in a government shutdown.

“It’s nice to believe you think it’s important because you’ve spent your entire congressional career pitting the debt against the military,” said McCain. “What were you thinking when you voted for an immediate withdrawal of troops and Afghanistan?”

Mulvaney said he was moved to vote for an immediate withdrawal when a constituent who served in Vietnam tearfully asked him to vote to bring his son home from the war.

“I was doing the best I could to represent the people of South Carolina,” Mulvaney said.

“Don't you know where 9/11 came from?” McCain snapped back. “I know one thing about South Carolina: A majority of them don’t support a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.”