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Wed, Aug 12, 2009

Murtha Offers To Cut Replacement Jets

But DoD Must Make The Decision, Murtha Says

If the Department of Defense tell him to cut money for as many as 7 Gulfstream C-37's and a Boeing 737 used primarily for VIP travel, Representative John Murtha (D-PA) says he will strike the funding from the House version of the defense appropriations bill.

The chair of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee said Monday “These aircraft will not increase the overall passenger aircraft fleet, but instead will replace older aircraft that have both safety and maintenance issues. In addition, these newer model aircraft cost significantly less to operate than the current aircraft.”

Politico reports that Murtha made the statement amid growing criticism for purchasing the aircraft. Congress and the Obama administration were very disparaging of the CEO's of Ford, GM, and Chrysler arriving in Washington on corporate jets for hearings related to a government bailout of their industry.

The Pentagon had originally requested $220 million for 4 of the Gulfstream C-37's to replace older aircraft in its fleet of airplanes used for travel military officials, administration personnel, and sometimes members of Congress.  Politico reports that the House Defense Appropriations Committee added three additional C-37's, the military version of a Gulfstream 550, and a Boeing 737 to the list, bringing the price tag to $550 million. The language for the purchase was not hidden in the bill, and Pentagon officials said the aircraft it requested were replacements, not additional capacity. The Pentagon says the committee funded the additional airplanes of its own accord, not at the request of DoD.

John Murtha (D-PA)

A House committee spokesman says the money for the additional jets is an acceleration of an Air Force program that is already in place to replace the aircraft. Murtha also said members of congress account for only about 15 percent of the travel on the jets.

The full Senate has yet to consider its version of the Defense appropriations bill. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and John McCain (R-AZ), both senior members of the Senate Defense Appropriations committee, are leading an effort to kill funding for the new aircraft.

FMI:  http://appropriations.house.gov, http://appropriations.senate.gov

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