TURBULENCE AFTER HOUSE DOUBLES PRIVATE JET BUY
By BRODY MULLINS and T.W. FARNAM
WASHINGTON — Bipartisan opposition is emerging in the Senate to a plan by House lawmakers to spend $550 million for additional passenger jets for senior government officials.
The resistance to buying eight Gulfstream and Boeing planes comes as members of both chambers of Congress embark on the busiest month of the year for official overseas travel. The plan to upgrade the fleet of government jets, which was included in a broader defense-funding bill, has also sparked criticism from the Pentagon, which has said it doesn’t need half of the new jets.
“The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach,” said Mrs. McCaskill in an interview Sunday. “It is evidence that some of the cynicism about Washington is well placed — that people get out of touch and they spend money likes it’s Monopoly money.”
Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) says the planned purchase “is a classic example of Congress being out of touch with the realities of deficit spending.”
The Obama administration had sought $220 million to buy four passenger jets, including two that are currently being leased by the Air Force, to replace a fleet of older planes. Before leaving town for the August break, House lawmakers doubled the aircraft order to eight, at a total cost of $550 million.
Update: ” 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. ”
This was in response to the following:
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