Update On The Executive Jets For Congress

I wrote recently about Congress adding two executive jets to the Air Force budget, jets the Air Force says it does not need. The Congress added the jets under the guise of giving the troops what they need but the reality is they added the jets for their own travel.

It gets worse though. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that The House added a total of eight more planes. The story goes on to discuss the increased amount of Congressional travel and how they do not like to have air travel on these planes rationed. It seems that with what the Air Force currently has some members of Congress miss out on the luxury travel.

Of course Coungress is saying this is for the troops:

Ellis Brachman, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said the changes were part of “Congress’s normal oversight responsibility” to make sure “the troops have everything they need.”

But the Pentagon has a different take on the subject:

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Department of Defense didn’t request the additional planes and doesn’t need them. “We ask for what we need and only what we need,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for.”

However, this might explain why the Congress felt the Air Force needed more luxury jets:

The 737s, known as C-40s by the military, are designed to be an “office in the sky” for government leaders, according to Air Force documents describing the plane. The plane is configured with all first-class leather seats, worktables, two large galleys for cooking and a “distinguished visitor compartment with sleep accommodations.”

~snip~

Lawmakers typically fly on military jets, where members of the Armed Services carry bags and take drink orders. When flying on military jets, lawmakers are permitted to bring along spouses at no cost.

When there are too many requests for military planes, the speaker of the House or the Senate majority leader decides who gets to go. Two House employees work full time to organize overseas trips.

There is often a shortage of military planes for use by lawmakers when Congress is in recess, according to emails from 2007 obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act Request.

In June 2007, the House’s travel coordinator, Kay King, was told that all military planes were booked for the July 4 recess. She replied to the Air Force officer: “This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker.” [emphasis mine]

It does not take an aerospace engineer to see that these planes were ordered to accomodate members of Congress who like to fly in style and be catered to. And if they fly on military aircraft they can take their spouses at no cost.

The article points out; “Over the past five years, 44% of the use of the planes has been for the military, 42% for the administration and 14.5% for members of Congress, Mr. Brachman said.”

The military use is undoubtedly for the Joint Chiefs and other DOD executives but I imagine some of the flights involved members of Congress using the planes to visit troops. Until they classify what constitutes military use we won’t know the extent of the travel.

Regardless, the Congress chastised auto executives for flying to DC in corporate jets to beg for stimulus money and Congress is using executive aircraft to fly around while taking more and more of our money.

These planes will cost $550 million. I know that seems like very little when Obama and Congress are spending trillions but it is a waste of money for the purpose of providing members of Congress with a perk.

I just hope no one tells them what comes after a trillion…

Big Dog

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One Response to “Update On The Executive Jets For Congress”

  1. Blake says:

    Its the “upset speaker” that they worry about- have you ever seen plastic surgery when it is overheated? NOT a pretty sight- it requires scaffolding and LOTS of spackle.