Senate Majority Leader Backtracks on Private Jet Travel, Offers Reforms

Jan 10, 2007 11:39am

In an unexpected move, new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., himself one of the Senate’s most frequent corporate fliers, has proposed to toughen the rules on the use of private jets. "To the American public, flying around on these aircraft appears to be wrong. We need to answer the public’s call for change," he said.  Reid’s strong position to restrict private jet travel was unexpected. On Monday, Reid’s office told ABC News the majority leader was "open to new ideas on the issue" but was concerned about strengthening the rules because of "unintended consequences for senators from large states where regular commercial traffic to rural areas is infrequent." THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Reid, Lott Top Senate List of Corporate Frequent Fliers Video Reid Calls for High-Flying Reforms Credit Cards and Secret Prisons on Senate Agenda Click Here to Check Out the Latest Brian Ross Webcast But when he took the Senate floor to offer his amendment requiring senators to pay the full charter price for rides on corporate jets instead of the discount now allowed, Reid used strong language and referred to his own frequent trips. "These reforms are not aimed at any particular lawmakers," he said.  "I’ve traveled on private airplanes a lot over the years. They are designed to remove even the appearance of impropriety of this Congress." Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Reid continued, "We all remember the scandals making headlines across America a year ago. Newspapers were filled with the stories of lawmakers being flown around the world for rounds of golf, of corrupt lobbyists milking their clients for millions of dollars and of top congressional staff being wined and dined." Despite the tough talk, however, Reid’s proposal still falls short of the outright ban on private jet travel included in the new House ethics rules passed last week and indicates there is still much disagreement among Senate members on reforming travel rules.    Watch Sen. Reid speak to this issue on the Senate floor.

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