|Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight new jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.|
The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. The new planes augment a fleet of about two dozen passenger jets maintained by the Air Force for lawmakers, administration officials and military chiefs to fly on government trips in the U.S. and abroad.
The congressional shopping list goes beyond what the Air Force had initially requested as part of its annual appropriations. The Pentagon sought to buy one Gulfstream V and one business-class equivalent of a Boeing 737 to replace aging planes. The Defense Department also asked to buy two additional 737s that were being leased.
.Lawmakers in the House last week added funds to buy a total of three Gulfstream planes and two additional 737s on top of the Pentagon's request. The purchases must still be approved by the Senate. The Air Force version of the Gulfstream V each costs $66 million, according to the Department of Defense, and the 737s cost about $70 million.
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."
Friday, August 7, 2009
Err..Congress actually brought four more jets.
Pentagon and Defense Department actually wanted four planes total and Congress decided to add four more.