The Corner

House Spends $200 Million on Private Jets for Their Own Use

Roll Call:

Last year, lawmakers excoriated the CEOs of the Big Three automakers for traveling to Washington, D.C., by private jet to attend a hearing about a possible bailout of their companies.

But apparently Congress is not philosophically averse to private air travel: At the end of July, the House approved nearly $200 million for the Air Force to buy three elite Gulfstream jets for ferrying top government officials and Members of Congress.

The Air Force had asked for one Gulfstream 550 jet (price tag: about $65 million) as part of an ongoing upgrade of its passenger air service.

But the House Appropriations Committee, at its own initiative, added to the 2010 Defense appropriations bill another $132 million for two more airplanes and specified that they be assigned to the D.C.-area units that carry Members of Congress, military brass and top government officials.

Because the Appropriations Committee viewed the additional aircraft as an expansion of an existing Defense Department program, it did not treat the money for two more planes as an earmark, and the legislation does not disclose which Member had requested the additional money.

In 2007, during the Bush administration, the military rejected a request by Pelosi for a nicer plane:

A source close to the controversy over the request made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for use of a military plane that can fly to and from her home district in San Francisco without having to stop to refuel, told ABC News that the Pentagon has rebuffed Pelosi’s request.

A source close to the controversy over the request made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for use of a military plane that can fly to and from her home district in San Francisco without having to stop to refuel, told ABC News that the Pentagon has rebuffed Pelosi’s request.

A C-20 can make the 700-mile flight to Hastert’s Aurora, Ill., district easily but would generally have to stop to refuel to complete the 2,800-mile trip from Washington, D.C. to the San Francisco Bay Area, depending on the headwinds.

Pelosi has expressed concern about having to stop and refuel, primarily for security reasons, her office said.

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