Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee chairman, said he will not seek re-election next year. (Alan Lessig / Staff)
WASHINGTON — Another longtime and powerful ally of the Pentagon and US defense sector is retiring after nearly four decades in Congress.
House Appropriations Defense subcommittee Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in November 2014. The 82-year-old Young’s pending departure comes a few months after another Pentagon and defense sector ally, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced his retirement.
Young made the announcement via an article published in the Tampa Bay Times.
“It’s my time,” Young told the Florida newspaper. He has been at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since Friday after a back injury.
Young told the newspaper that the coming rehabilitation from that injury and his desire to spend time with his family were among the reasons he decided to step aside.
He was first elected to the House in 1976, and in one memorable 2011 exchange argued in open session with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates about an Army vehicle contract. At that time, Gates was nearly untouchable on Capitol Hill.
Young, when asked by the Times if Washington’s political environment also was a factor, said: “I’m a little disappointed. It seems there’s too much politics. It’s a different Congress.”
The veteran lawmaker recently broke with most members of the House Republican conference by signaling he would vote for a continuing resolution that did not target President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.
And in one interview, he acknowledged the tea party wing of the caucus is “pretty much in charge right now.”
Subcommittee chairmanships typically are handed out based upon seniority. The next four Republicans on the panel, in terms of seniority, are: Frank Wolf of Virginia, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and Tom Latham of Iowa.
Kingston and Frelinghuysen are current members of the Defense subcommittee.
Late last week, as the House voted on a tea party-backed government funding bill that was instantly DOA in the Senate, Young sat, as he often did, just off the chamber floor.
Sitting alone in his wheelchair in front an ornate fireplace in the Speaker’s Lobby, with other members and reporters buzzing around him, Young appeared to be sleeping.