Schumer ‘Regrets’ Uttering B-word at Flight Attendant

Dec 16, 2009 1:30pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Health care reform efforts may have met their latest match: A flight attendant on the US Airways shuttle. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the voluble Brooklyn Democrat who’s a key player in the health care fight, got into a bit of a spat with a flight attendant aboard the shuttle from New York to Washington on Sunday. Schumer was on his cell phone talking health care with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when a flight attendant asked him and his seat mate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to shut off their phones so the plane could leave, according to Politico’s Anne Schroeder Mullins. Schumer asked to finish his conversation, but the flight attendant insisted that he shut off his phone immediately. He complied — and then muttered the word “bitch,” in a voice loud enough for others on the plane to hear. “The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath after the flight attendant walked away,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. “He shouldn’t have made it, he regrets it and he has apologized for it.” (Schumer’s whispering voice, it should be noted, is famously audible to just about anyone in the vicinity.) The incident became immediate political fodder: “It’s often said that the most dangerous place to be in Washington or New York is between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera, but it’s increasingly clear that a close second is when someone has the gall to ask the senator to follow the same rules that every other airline passenger must follow,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC also pointed to a January report in The Washington Post, where Schumer pushed for a shuttle flight to leave a few minutes early so he could get back to Washington for a vote. Schumer’s office notes that New York’s senior senator is currently working on the side of US Airways flight attendants and pilots, in a fight with the company over the airlines’ decision to no longer use New York’s LaGuardia airport as a base of operations for New York-area crew. The change would mean that New York-based employees would have to travel to another airport first, even if they’re serving on a flight departing from New York, according to Schumer’s office.

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