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Proposed spending includes 74 new F-35s

Congress could be ready to add more F-35s to the budget. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $578 billion defense spending bill Thursday.

“This appropriations bill will authorize and allocate money for 74 new F-35 aircraft,” U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz said.

Northwest Florida has a lot invested in the F-35. Pilots are trained on the fighter jets at Eglin Air Force Base. And many companies in the area, like Fort Walton Machining, make parts for the plane.

“It might seem minuscule on a percentage basis, but from a piece part count to build multiple components like we do, it ends up being significant,” Tim McDonald of Fort Walton Machining said. “As the production rate increases, we will be hiring new people and equipment to be able to support production rate.”

“If we're able to fund the construction of more aircraft means more jobs, high paying jobs,” Gaetz said.

Before he was sworn into office, President Trump was critical of the F-35 program. He called the costs "out of control" on Twitter back in December, but Gaetz said that’s a thing of the past.

“We’ve got costs down for the F-35, but we haven’t reduced capability of the aircraft,” Gaetz said. “And we've proven that pilots are safer and able to survive conflict in the F-35 than in any other aircraft.”

The bill will be making it's way to the Senate.

President Trump said, in the coming weeks, he'll deliver a new bill delivering billions more into the defense budget.

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