A Florida congressman plans to offer an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization bill that would require House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fly coach – just as she requires of other Congress members.
The California Democrat commutes across the continent in a jet provided by the military, a policy first authorized for the House speaker following the 9/11 terror attacks.
For example, a receipt for “in-flight services” for the House speaker included a list that looked like a dream order for a wild frat party: Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey and Corona beer.
It was only part of the more than $101,000 taxpayers paid for “in-flight services” for Pelosi’s trips on Air Force jets over a two-year period, the Judicial Watch report said.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., announced today he applauded Pelosi’s new House rules-change that bans all members of Congress from flying first class on the taxpayer’s dime.
And to help the speaker enforce the new rules, Posey said in an announcement, he is offering an amendment to the FY 2011 Defense Authorization bill which requires the speaker to lead by example and also fly coach. The move, he said, would spare taxpayers the $28,000 it costs per flight for her personal military aircraft when she travels back and forth to her home in San Francisco.
“I’m glad the speaker decided to create these new standards for cost savings and transparency,” said Posey. “But the rules must apply to every member in order for them to be effective and my amendment would do just that. Every time the speaker boards her personal military aircraft it costs the taxpayers approximately $28,000 a flight. The leader of the people’s House should travel just like everyone else.”
Posey said he submitted the amendment to the House Rules Committee for consideration.
It would take effect when the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 is enacted Oct. 1.
Posey also suggested the speaker’s office should work to release the House floor schedule earlier so members have enough time to make travel plans and can avoid having to make costly, last minute changes to their travel itineraries.
It was several weeks ago when Pelosi confirmed the orders for members of Congress to fly coach or economy class for flights both domestic and overseas, unless the trip is more than 14 hours.
At the time, the California Democrat told the Associated Press, “These travel policy announcements are part of our continuing effort to ensure transparency and accountability in congressional management.”
Today, her office declined to respond to a WND request for comment about the Posey proposal.
It has been reported that one estimate for travel expenses for House committees in 2009 was $8.7 million while the Senate reported about $5 million.
The practice of authorizing a military jet for the speaker was begun sometime shortly after 9/11, as the speaker of the House is high on the list of succession to the presidency should the nation’s leaders be attacked.
But the Judicial Watch report suggested that there have been some excesses on Pelosi’s watch.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, show Pelosi incurred expenses of some $2.1 million for her use of Air Force jets for travel over a recent two-year period.
“Speaker Pelosi has a history of wasting taxpayer funds with her boorish demands for military travel,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said at the time his organization’s report came out. “And these documents suggest the speaker’s congressional delegations are more about partying than anything else.”
Pelosi recently joined President Obama on a Judicial Watch list of Top 10 corrupt politicians because of her “sense of entitlement,” the group said.
WND reported a year ago Pelosi was shown to have been erratically canceling and rescheduling flights, as one would with an on-call taxi service.
“We have … folks prepping the jets and crews driving in (not a short drive for some), cooking meals and preflighting the jets etc,” said one Department of Defense e-mail at the time.
Another official sent an e-mail questioning a series of Pelosi’s requests for aircraft.
“Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?” it stated. “[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…”
The e-mail noted that the speaker’s office had “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”
Judicial Watch said the 2,000 pages of documentation it obtained showed Pelosi’s military travel cost the U.S. Air Force $2,100,744.59 over two years – including $101,429.14 for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.
Among the highlights revealed:
- Pelosi used Air Force aircraft to travel back to her district at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. Of 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations (CODEL), 31 trips included members of the House speaker’s family.
- One CODEL traveling from Washington, D.C., through Tel Aviv, Israel, to Baghdad, Iraq, May 15-20, 2008, “to discuss matters of mutual concern with government leaders” included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone. This flight included the purchase of the long list of alcoholic drinks.
- According to a “Memo for Record” from a March 29-April 7, 2007, CODEL that involved a stop in Israel, “CODEL could only bring kosher items into the hotel. Kosher alcohol for mixing beverages in the delegation room was purchased on the local economy i.e. bourbon, whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, triple sec, tequila, etc.