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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As Republicans take U.S. House, Florida's clout surges



WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Mica started to pull out his cellphone but was suddenly struck with modesty, pushing it back in his pocket. A second later, he could not contain himself.

The phone log showed a flurry of conversations with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

So goes life at the top.

When the 112th Congress convenes in January, Mica will be chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, one of the most powerful perches on Capitol Hill. Two other Florida lawmakers will take the helm of committees: Rep. Jeff Miller over Veterans' Affairs and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen over Foreign Affairs.

Add to the mix the likely return of Pinellas County Rep. C.W. Bill Young as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee and Florida has significant clout in Washington — power that has been surprisingly elusive despite being the fourth-largest state and a critical battleground in presidential elections. (story here)

[Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 9:15pm]


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