Lawmakers are backing away from a controversial plan to buy four VIP jets that Congress tacked onto a defense appropriation after the Pentagon and some elected leaders balked.
The executive jets, Gulfstream 550s, were earmarked for use by senior government officials, including members of Congress. But a Pentagon spokesman said the House Appropriations Committee added the planes to a Department of Defense request, adding $330 million to the Pentagon budget.
“If the Department of Defense does not want these aircraft, they will be eliminated from the bill,” Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommitee said Monday evening.
Murtha claimed the luxury jets are needed because the planes currently used to fly top lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi around are old. But in the Senate, some lawmakers said buying planes for politicians sends the wrong message.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said the funding “kind of makes me sick to my stomach,” and has vowed to kill it. Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both senior members of the Armed Services Committee, also opposed the plan.