New Congressional Jet Travel Ban Launches Fight

Fine print in new House ethics rule may bar lawmakers from flying their own private planes.

On Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) office said the Hastings-Peterson exchange should satisfy any concerns private pilots in the House may have.

Although a Peterson aide said Hastings' word satisfies his concerns, a spokeswoman for Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said Graves prefers Democratic leaders "fix the language of the rule." Graves' 20-county plus Missouri district stretches north and east from Kansas City

"Many Members of Congress, particularly in rural or large areas, rely on airplanes as a primary means of transportation to travel within their districts," said Brianne Hyder, a spokeswoman for Graves. "Taking away a member's ability to travel by plane limits their ability to serve their constituents."

While changes to House rules affect only that chamber, current Senate ethics legislation, as proposed, could cement the unintentional error in all Congressional offices, according to Issa spokesman Frederick Hill.

But unlike in the House, Hill predicted the Senate's more deliberative process would iron out the semantic wrinkles that went unnoticed on the House side "because of the closed process used by House Democrats that doesn't allow errors to be corrected."

"There's lots of big bills that contain errors," Hill said. "In a committee or open process, it can be corrected."

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