House GOP Blasts Pelosi for Plane Request

The Associated Press
Friday, February 9, 2007; 10:40 AM

WASHINGTON -- For most of the past five weeks, House Republicans could do little else but watch as majority Democrats passed major legislation without giving them a chance to propose changes or offer alternatives.

So when they finally got a chance Thursday to air pent-up frustrations over how Democrats were running things, the Republicans decided to make some noise _ and how.

They aimed high, all the way to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The California Democrat went before the House Science Committee in the morning to champion her commitment to do something about global warming, a rare appearance for a leader of the House.

She did so as reports swirled on Capitol Hill that she had requested a bigger, swankier government airplane than her Republican predecessor had used for trips back to her home district when Congress isn't meeting.

For Republicans, feeling muzzled and still blue over losing control of the House, the irony was too good to ignore.

A waste of the taxpayers' money, some said, claiming her trips would cost $15 million a year if she used planes such as the military version of the Boeing 757-200. In its commercial configuration the 757-200 usually seats 175-190 passengers.

Pelosi should lead by example, argued others, because a bigger plane consumes more fuel and contributes more to the global warming she expresses concern about.

"The jet that Pelosi has produces 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide an hour, far more than the previous speaker used," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. Pelosi's predecessor was Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

"By commandeering a huge government plane for her personal transport to California, this is totally contradictory to the alarm bells we heard her ringing in the Science Committee just a few hours ago," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said.

Democrats said the debate on the plane, which took place on a Republican amendment to a bill to promote ethanol and other alternative fuels, was "silly." White House spokesman Tony Snow also weighed in, also calling the plane controversy "silly."

The Republicans' amendment to the alternative fuels bill amounted to a dig at Pelosi; it specifically mentioned passenger planes "capable of transcontinental flights."

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