Incoming House of Representatives Majority Leader and Presumptive Speaker John Boehner has said that he will be using Commercial airlines when travelling from his home State of Ohio to Washington DC for House sittings.
This is detailed in the article at this link.
This is in stark contrast to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who used the USAF’s executive Jet fleet, almost as her own private little Air Force.
Traditionally, all members of Congress travelled with the Commercial airlines. That changed after September 11, and due to the importance of the position of House Speaker, the Speaker was directed to use the USAF for travel purposes, when going to and from House sittings from their home District.
Speaker at that time, Dennis Hastert started using the small Air Force executive jets on the commute from his district in Illinois.
However, Nancy Pelosi turned this travel into an art form. Admitted she needed to commute from California, but her use of these jets went beyond normal House duties responsibility, something which I mentioned in this earlier post.
The aircraft in question is the Gulfstream V executive jet, one of the top of the line executive jets out there in the aviation area. The USAF variant is the C-37A, and some are shown in the slide show here, along with images of the incoming Speaker, John Boehner, and the outgoing Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Also shown are some typical interiors of this Executive jet, and some images of the civilian version of this Gulfstream V.
The Gulfstream was originally manufactured by the Grumman Corporation, and is now manufactured by Gulfstream Aerospace, a division of General Dynamics. The civilian variants have been updated to include the later versions of the Gulfstream V, the G500 and the G550. The Gulfstream V has a top speed of 670MPH, cruises at around 480 Knots (around 550MPH) and has a nominal range of around 6500 miles. They are the epitome of executive jet travel, and cost around $50 million each.
As well as ordinary travel for House duties, Pelosi also utilised the USAF aircraft for her family, as well as for travel not related to her duties as Speaker, as mentioned in that earlier post. The Air Force had got to the stage where they had to keep a crew on hand at all hours waiting for her call, and in fact sometimes she even utilised the larger aircraft in that fleet for her travel purposes. The use of all those aircraft necessitated the Air Force keeping crews, both aircrew, and ground crew as well, on hand until all hours, because the flight does not end when Nancy gets off the plane and into her Limo to take her home. The cost of each of these flights was quite large, and Nancy racked up considerable amounts with her use of these aircraft.
This is the USAF, not a personal airline, and while travel for the Speaker alone should be seen as acceptable for the functioning of her duties as Speaker of the House, it should not extend to any other time outside of that, and should never have been for her family, friends or colleagues.
It’s good to see that the new incoming Speaker is dropping this rort.
I have seen at other sites some quite petty comments that new Speaker John Boehner will probably be travelling First Class, but gee, even a First Class air fare would be cheaper than the tens of thousands of dollars total cost for each of the flights from the former Speaker. Perhaps now the USAF can get back to its core duties for these aircraft, and not have them tied up for some of the obviously frivolous times they were used by the former Speaker.