Defense Experts Worry About Florida's Capitol Hill Slide

Nov 17, 2016

Last week’s presidential election is cause for much hand wringing, but Florida’s Defense Support Task Force is more concerned about the Sunshine State’s declining clout on Capitol Hill.

An F-35 Lightning II was recently parked at Tyndall AFB in the Florida Panhandle. Florida's $35 billion slice of the defense budget could be threatened by a lack of Congressional clout.

Two retiring members of the Florida congressional delegation, Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville and Jeff Miller of Chumuckla, are giving up defense-related committee chairs.

Add to that a slew of rookies elected last week, and Florida’s Congressional delegation is in the weakest position in years. Alliance D.C. lobbyist John Patrick Walsh put it this way in Thursday’s meeting in Tampa.

“The biggest challenge that we’ll be facing up here in the Washington office, as well as with the Task Force, is the loss of all of our House Armed Services members. We will not have a member, a Florida member, at this moment, for the first time in a number of years.”

Republican Congressman-elect Matt Gaetz of Shalimar served on the Task Force when he was first elected to the Florida Legislature. Walsh says the buzz in Washington is that Gaetz will land on Armed Services after he’s sworn in.

Defense spending in Florida tops 73 billion dollars and is tied to 750 thousand jobs, or put another way, represents a little more than 9 percent of the Sunshine State economy.