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August 10, 2009—Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has taken exception to the addition of unsolicited VIP jet aircraft for USAF in the 2010 defense spending bill passed July 30 by the full House, noting that Americans are "tightening their belts" in these tough economic times.

The House Appropriations Committee added money to fund three C-37s (modified Gulfstream Vs) not just the two aircraft USAF requested—that will be used primarily to transport lawmakers and top government officials.

According to a report, a committee staffer argued the add-on would simply speed the replacement of old aircraft and save money in the end. But, in her Aug. 6 statement, McCaskill said the addition "just makes no sense" and sends "the wrong message at the wrong time."

McCaskill plans to work to block the two extra C-37s when the Senate returns from August recess and takes up its version of the defense spending bill.

And, she hasn't been alone in her criticism of this Congressional add-on as the news reverberated around the Internet last week. Critics also targeted the addition of two C-40s (modified Boeing 737-700s also used primarily for VIP transport) vice the one C-40 requested by USAF.

One staffer, Ellis Brachman, took offense when a Pentagon official intimated that Congress should just follow the DOD budget plan. He told, "If Congress just rubber-stamped the Defense Department's budget request every year, we would not have Predator [unmanned] aircraft today and our troops would not have the body armor they need."

Not all of these new special transport aircraft are necessarily destined for the VIP-rich D.C. area.  USAF said last year it wants to assign at least one C-37 and one C-40 with the fledgling US Africa Command.