The House has approved nearly $200 million for the Air Force to buy three elite jets for transporting members of Congress and other top government officials.
The Air Force had requested one Gulfstream 550 jet, which cost about $65 million. But the House Appropriations Committee added another $132 million to the 2010 Defense appropriations bill for two more jets, and "specified that they be assigned to the D.C.-area units that carry Members of Congress, military brass and top government officials," Roll Call reported.
It was just last year that lawmakers sharply criticized the CEOs of the Big Three automakers for traveling to Washington by private jet for a hearing about a bailout of their companies.
The Gulfstream 550 is capable of flying long distances without refueling. The company's promotional materials say: "The cabin aboard the G550 combines productivity with exceptional comfort. It features up to four distinct living areas, three temperature zones, a choice of 12 floor plan configurations with seating for up to 18 passengers."
Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, told Roll Call that if Congress wants to buy new jets for the comfort of top government officials, "I think that all needs to be justified on the merits . . . Certainly, lawmakers can fly — and many do — coach and business class."
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