August 11th, 2009
01:35 PM ET
5 years ago

House to back off from controversial plane purchase

The House of Representatives is dropping a plan to make the Pentagon buy more civilian-style jets than it requested.
The House of Representatives is dropping a plan to make the Pentagon buy more civilian-style jets than it requested.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Under criticism for appearing extravagant, the House of Representatives is dropping a plan to make the Pentagon buy more civilian-style jets than it requested.

A statement released by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, appeared to end the controversy over the addition of four planes in the House military appropriations bill to the Pentagon's original request of four to upgrade its aging fleet of aircraft used to transport Washington officials, including members of Congress.

The Pentagon wanted a C-37 Gulfstream jet and three C-40 military versions of the Boeing 737. The House added two C-37s and two C-40s at a cost of more than $270 million.

Dropping the proposal doesn't save money, as the total funding provided by the bill remains unchanged. It means the money that would have been used to pay for the extra planes will go to other purposes.

But some members of Congress from both parties criticized the plan to buy the additional planes, saying it created the perception of spending extravagance by Congress. The Gulfstreams would be similar to private jets used by corporate executives, they noted.

Murtha's statement Monday night defended the plan, but said the additional aircraft will be dropped from the spending measure.

"These aircraft will not increase the overall passenger aircraft fleet, but instead will replace older aircraft that have both safety and maintenance issues," said Murtha, chairman of House defense appropriations subcommittee. "In addition, these newer model aircraft cost significantly less to operate than the current aircraft."

His statement concluded by yielding to the Pentagon's wishes, saying, "If the Department of Defense does not want these aircraft, they will be eliminated from the bill."


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soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. don corpier

    how dare these morons in congress try and slip through several hundred million dollars to buy comfort transportation for themselves. ride coach like the rest of the public does. these same people lower the hammer on car execs. for doing the same thing. at least they were not spending tax payer dollars. there is not one member of congress that can justify flying around in a luxury jet. this type of behavior is absolutely disgusting. congress wonders why the american people are fed up with them. i just lost my health benefits and about to lose half my pension. what is wrong with this picture. they go on there little boon dogles, stay at luxury hotels, eat and drink very expensively and fly on luxury jets at tax payer expense. the american people have about had it with these parasites.

    August 11, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Hannah Stevens

    I should certainly think so.What were they thinking of?

    August 11, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Patrick Dool

    Who was the idiot (or idots) in the House who even suggested such an outrageous purchase at this time? These are the types of individuals who we DO NOT need or want representing the will of the American people. If any of our elected representatives want to fly, there are a variety of airlines serving U.S. and International destinations that also have top notch security. There is no justifiable reason for Congress to have its own fleet of corporate jets. At last check, our elected officials are in Washington to serve the people not their own special interests.

    August 11, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Matt

    The fact that members of congress could even conceive of such an idea during the current economic condition speaks volumes about Washington's disconnection from every day Americans. It's no surprise that a guy like Murtha would defend the plan. He's as corrupt as they come.

    August 11, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Joe

    The best things the DEMs' white house and congress can do for America are to spread the wealth around and put their hands in your pockets to spend taxpayers' future tax dollars down the road.

    August 11, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. LIP

    Leave it to Murtha to defend this bit of hypocrisy.
    Wasn't it Murtha's bunch that degraded Bush for so called torture and thougtht it was wrong to target leaders for assasination? Meanwhile, under the Democrats, it is appartenlty okay to do so now that they are in power. Last week, the wife of one of the Taliban leaders was killed in an assasination attempt on her husband and just a few days ago, the most prominent Taliban leader was assasinated.
    So, does this mean that under the current circumstances, it is now justified, based on what this administration approves, based on what their lawyers say is okay, based on their interpretation of the Constitution?

    August 11, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. illinoistom

    I hope that CNN's expert on teabagging, Anderson Cooper, takes note that private citizens exercising their 1st Amendment rights are beginning to get the attention of the political class. Keep the pressure on, we can save this country yet!

    August 11, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Hotdog

    The idea of purchasing air planes for the members of Congress makes no sense. They should go through same security procedures, wait in line and on the tar mac just like the people they serve. It just goes to show the true character of some of the people that we have elected to serve the American people. It makes me angry to no end when I read things like this. More than half of the people in Congress do not have the best interest for the people that they represent.

    August 11, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. RR

    Murtha is the biggest waster of tax dollars in the country. he needs to go!

    August 11, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. kishen c.rao

    let these selfish guys take bus...greyhound...we have in greenville..nc..ok...let them ride train...and ask for a train-ride from wilson..i will give...ok...

    August 11, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Mike T.

    Maybe congress should quit flying on private jets and fly on our airlines, they need the revenue and keep our costs down.

    If our politicians had to live a few years in our shoes, they would understand how tough it is (no pensions, healthcare that covers everything, expense accounts, etc...)

    Think before you spend my money!

    August 11, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. We Have "Death Panels". They're Called Insurance Company Bureaucrats

    Watching Sen. McCaskill's town hall meeting, it is clear that we need to euthanize stupid RebirtherTea party members

    August 11, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Pat F

    The Wall Street Journal made the Democratic Congress say "Uncle"! The WSJ ALONE broke this story. The WSJ is the ONE source of journalism in this country. Every other paper and outlet are just yes-men and propaganda tools.

    If you want the truth, get the Journal.

    August 11, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. barrystash

    Murtha is under investigation and probably will go to jail, so I believe him as much as I would any other Obamaton.

    What has happened here is that the congressional Obamatons have proposed these six planes knowing the people would object. So when congress backs down the Obamatons think "gee....our royal rulers are sacrificing so much by giving up these planes we will agree to let congress rape our health care". That is all this is about.

    August 11, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Kater

    Why is it okay for the Pentagon to get four new executive aircraft to fly its generals and their wives around, but not okay for Congress to ask for planes not just for themselves but for the executive branch's use as well?

    August 11, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Fed Up

    Oh cry me a river Murtha!! These arrogant fools are constantly wasting OUR hard earned dollars. If they gave a hoot about global warming they would be flying commercial and not adding to the so called problem..........but that is for the little people, not them.

    August 11, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Roxie Southern Oregon

    Maybe they should call up AIG and borrow one of theirs, afterall the taxpayers own them.

    August 11, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. MT

    Look at how much we saved in maintenance by not spending 500 million! Safety issues my ass, if it was safety the planes would/should be grounded regardless of the "expense". Just think about how much more you elected "Representatives" could save by teleconferencing, taking commercial flights, and using technologies already in place, rather than flying in/out on weekends.

    We have allowed these representatives to get wealthy off of their constituents hard work.

    This form of government was not created to line the pockets of delegates. If you "need" a couple hundred thousand a year salary, expense accounts, meals on the hill, private jets and a car service to "get by" in your service for the people then maybe your not tuned in to how your constituents are fairing in this economy.

    Tighten it up! Republicans and Democrats, you have work to do, roll up your sleeves and get after it.

    August 11, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. donttreadonme

    You can’t bash the auto-executives for flying in private jets to discuss the bail outs. When our own members of Congress are proposing similar arrangements while our country is also Bankrupt!

    Dumb libs/dems.

    August 11, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Bubba

    Remember, I got no dog in this fight. I already said I don't know if it's smart or not. But when you drop some senator in the ocean next year, don't blame me.

    August 11, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Michael Hsu

    These congresscritters still don't get it – even 4 aircrafts is too much to spend for the current deficit government. Let them drive to Washington DC. That;'s what I'd do to save costs. It's too easy to spend other people's money – let them buy their own jets with their own pocket cash if they really want to fly.

    August 11, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Chris H

    What's wrong with commercial airlines? Can't members of the House stand in line and go through security like the rest of the tax-paying public?

    August 11, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. Paul from Phoenix

    These guys think they are playing with monopoly money. Congress should be ashamed of itself.

    August 11, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. jason, montana

    It wouldn't "create the perception of spending extravagance by Congress", it would just perpetuate it.

    August 11, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Phil, CA

    Nice attempt to apply a smoke-screen here. Sorry, no dice. How about coming clean with the rest of the nation by sharing the same financial woes as the public? Why do these self-indulgent swines think they deserve these private jets to begin with? Seeing how they breath the same air we do, and drink the same water we do (maybe not, they probably have a bottomless bottle of Perrier at their disposal as well), why can't they take commercial flights like the rest of mainstream America so they can see what it is like 'down here.' Since when does the United States of America have 'royalty' that looks down at the peasants? Why can't they be forced to fly coach, stand in line, take off their shoes, empty their pockets, and otherwise be humiliated like the rest of us when flying anywhere? This whole ordeal just isn't right. Wastefyl spending needs to stop starting at the top. Seems they forget who is serving who in this country. During my Naval career not once was a First Class ticket purhased for by the Gov't to travel on official orders. Wash DC is so full of contradictions it is so disheartening.

    August 11, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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