Pelosi Catches Nonstop Flights Home

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Amid rumblings from conservatives that she is seeking special treatment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) will receive use of an Air Force jet larger than the one used by her predecessor, Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, so she can fly nonstop to her home in San Francisco.

Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the speaker, who is next in line for the presidency after the vice president, has been given use of a government plane for security reasons. Hastert (R-Ill.), who had flown commercially before the attacks, was the first to have use of a plane. But the one he traveled in was too small to make it to California without refueling.

Yesterday, the House sergeant-at-arms issued a statement saying that the leadership is awaiting word from the Air Force on the rules for using the plane. It is unclear, for example, who can travel with Pelosi and whether she can return home from a political event on the taxpayer-funded plane.

Pelosi's office requested the guidelines, triggering a story in the Washington Times in which sources questioned whether she was asking for more than the former speaker received.

Democratic aides sputtered about a "right-wing hatchet job" to make Pelosi look bad. But, said one involved in the negotiations, "this is about security, not about convenience."

An aide in Hastert's office said yesterday that the former speaker used the plane for official business but not for political travel. He did at times transport his wife and staff when he was flying to and from Illinois.

Brendan Daley, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that she will not use the plane for political travel.

-- Lois Romano

© 2007 The Washington Post Company