The Wall Street Journal reports:
Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.
The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. … The congressional shopping list goes beyond what the Air Force had initially requested as part of its annual appropriations. … Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Department of Defense didn’t request the additional planes and doesn’t need them. “We ask for what we need and only what we need,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for.”
Congress turned harshly critical of companies that fly executives on private jets in the weeks following the government bailout of banks and auto makers last year. General Motors, Chrysler LLC and Citigroup Inc. were among those caught in the cross hairs of angry lawmakers.