House drops plans for jets

WASHINGTON – House Democratic leaders said Monday that they will not force the Pentagon to buy four new passenger jets used to ferry senior government officials.

Democrats have been criticized for adding $330 million to the Air Force’s 2010 budget to buy the jets even though the Pentagon didn’t request the money.

Two of the planes would be the C-37 – the military equivalent to the fancy Gulfstream 550 – and cost taxpayers $130 million at a time when lawmakers have made villains of bailed-out auto executives who rely on corporate jets to travel.

“If the Department of Defense does not want these aircraft, they will be eliminated from the bill,” said Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who chairs the panel that approved the additional spending.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supported the decision, which was expected to face resistance in the Senate.


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