Fla. lawmaker Young to retire after 22 terms
WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Florida's longest-serving member of Congress and a lawmaker who has been influential on military spending during his 43 years in Washington, has decided to retire.
Young said he will serve the rest of his term, which ends next year. His district is expected to be up for grabs, and the announcement on Wednesday makes it likely that Democrats will pour additional resources into the district during the 2014 election.
The 82-year-old Florida lawmaker first announced his decision in the Tampa Bay Times. His spokesman, Harry Glenn, confirmed it.
In recent years, Young has become increasingly frail and has relied on a wheelchair. He was quoted by the newspaper as saying that his decision was based on both his health and a desire to spend more time with his family.
He added that he has been in Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington since Friday because of back problems that stemmed from a 1970 small-plane crash.
Within an hour of Young's announcement, praise of his service from his fellow Florida politicians emerged.
“Congressman Bill Young is an American patriot,” tweeted former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. “We appreciate his service!”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio praised Young for his support for the military. “No one has fought harder for the servicemen and women in this country and for returning veterans than Bill and his wife, Beverly,” wrote Rubio in a news release.
Said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat: “He was always someone who approached solutions in a bipartisan way. He will be missed.”
Young was born in Harmarville and moved to Indian Shores, Fla., a small Gulf Coast community in Pinellas County.
He served in the Army National Guard from 1948 to 1957, then became an aide to Rep. William Cramer from 1957 to 1960. From 1961 to 1971, Young served in the Florida Senate.
He was first elected to the U.S. House in 1970. Young and his wife have three children.
The congressman has been a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he focused on military spending. He and his wife frequently visited ailing service members in hospitals in the Washington area.
As one of the strongest defense hawks in Congress, Young made headlines in 2012 when he said the United States should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.
Young said at the time that “we're killing kids who don't need to die,” and reflected the growing weariness with a conflict that had dragged on for more than a decade.