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Defense Dollars Threatened As Senior Members of Congress Step Down

Florida’s Congressional delegation is losing its senior members, and officials are warning that could hurt efforts to keep defense dollars flowing.

Officials are worried $80 billion in direct and indirect defense spending in Florida could suffer after senior members of Florida's congressional delegation step down.

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Direct or indirect defense spending in the Sunshine State accounts for $80 billion, according to the Florida Defense Task Force. And the public-private group worries that will be harder to maintain with one-third of Florida’s congressional delegation retiring.

John Patrick Walsh, who lobbies for state government in Washington, D.C., warned task force members lawmakers will be giving up valuable seats on defense-related committees when they go.

“That is going to play a little bit of havoc with our ability to move legislation in Washington, D.C., and make sure that Florida’s voices continue to be heard.”

Walsh mentioned a few examples, including Republican Congressman Jeff Milller from the military rich Panhandle. Miller chairs Veteran’s Affairs. Another retiring Republican, Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, serves on a defense appropriations subcommittee.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.