WASHINGTON — Rep. C.W. Bill Young said Thursday he will seek a waiver from term limits on leadership posts in order to retake control of the appropriations subcommittee on defense.
The 79-year-old lawmaker from Pinellas County, first elected in 1970, chaired the committee before and was the ranking Republican under Democrats. Young said he feels confident he'll get a waiver under incoming House Speaker John Boehner. The two spoke about it before Congress adjourned for the election, Young said Thursday.
"He indicated to me he thought I would be the right person to chair that defense committee because that's what I've done. I've done it for a long time, and I've done it very effectively," he said.
Under Newt Gingrich in 1995, Republicans established six-year limits on committee leadership posts. Young was chairman of the full appropriations committee from 1999-2005 and oversaw the defense subcommittee from 1995-98 and 2005-06.
With the return of the GOP majority, Young is not the only veteran Republican facing the term-limit problem. He will find out his fate sometime after the Nov. 15 organizational session.
Young said he expects the new leadership to follow through on a pledge to limit — if not fully ban — earmarks. But Young has been a prolific defense earmarker and stands by them.
In an interview, he pulled out one of his favorite examples, noting that the unmanned Predator drones now being used in Afghanistan were born out of an earmark for a defense contractor.
"Today it's the most feared weapon we have as far as the Taliban and al Qaida is concerned," Young said. "That was an earmark. Do you want to prevent Congress from making those kinds of decisions? Building a new hospital for veterans, is that an earmark? Is that pork?"