Pentagon: Congressional Jets Hurt Defense
The Pentagon is criticizing the House of Representative's request to upgrade Congress' air fleet -- and charge the cost to the Defense Department. "It forces us to take money from things we do need to fund and redirect it for things we don't need," Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, told the Wall Street Journal. "And in a time of war, we just can't afford that. The bottom line is, for everything that they appropriate for us above and beyond what we've asked for, it will, at some point require us to find money from programs we do need."Lawmakers slipped the request into the Pentagon's proposed budget for 2010, insisting that Congress' current fleet of executive jets is old and more expensive to operate that newer, more efficient planes. They also say lawmakers use the jets only 14.5 percent of the time, compared to 44 percent usage by military members. President Barack Obama sent Congress a Pentagon budget of $640.1 billion, which the House adjusted and scaled back to $636.3 billion. During that process, members requested $550 million to purchase eight passenger jets. Obama originally sought only $220 million to buy four planes.