Published November 10, 2010
Presumptive House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he will not use the military jet provided to current Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fly from D.C. to his home district each week, but will board the same airlines as everybody else.
Pelosi had claimed after she became speaker in 2007 that a military aircraft was offered to her in light of position as second in line to the presidency. But Boehner said he's not so concerned.
"I've talked to our security folks about the security involved in my new role. Over the last 20 years I've flown back and forth to my district on commercial aircraft and will continue to do that," Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
During her speakership, Pelosi's use of a military-provided aircraft for flights between Washington and her home in San Francisco angered many who claimed she was abusing the privilege of her post.
But House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood, who is responsible for the speaker's security, came to Pelosi's defense, saying the Air Force had made an airplane available to her predecessor in response to heightened security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
He also said it was unfortunate that the speaker's security would be politicized. Pelosi's office noted that her predecessor, Republican Dennis Hastert of Illinois, had used a similar military plane.
On Wednesday, Livingood issued a statement suggesting that Boehner's travel these days does not carry the same security risks.
"Based on the current security assessment, the House sergeant-at-arms is comfortable with Leader Boehner utilizing commercial aircraft," he said.
Because Pelosi's congressional district is across the country, Pelosi was flown on a G-5, which can seat 12 and can fly coast to coast without refueling. The Air Force provided it on an as-available basis.
Boehner also said it was appropriate for Pelosi to have the plane, but questioned the need for it.
"I think from a security standpoint having access to a plane, going to and from a district, makes a lot of sense," he said. "The question is about what's reasonable to expect the taxpayers to pick up."