Stevens tried to carve out an exception for cases when there is no more than one daily flight between communities within a member's state and there was no conflict of interest involved. But he withdrew that proposal after Reid gave assurances that the government would pay the extra air travel costs.
The new restrictions also hit a snag in the House when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a private pilot, wrote the House ethics committee complaining that the new House rules could be construed as banning private pilots from flying on the job. "This rule has an additional flaw in that it offers no exception for members using their personal funds for flying aircraft they personally own," he said.
John Santore, spokesman for Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, chair of the House Rules Committee, said the intention of the rule was clear, to prevent corporations and lobbyists from buying access to members of Congress and not to keep private pilots out of the cockpit.
In the Senate, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a pilot with a half-century of experience, succeeded in revising the provision to exempt private pilots.
The Senate bill is S.1.
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