Ever since 9/11, a small military jet has been made available to transport the Speaker of the House for security reasons, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports. The Speaker is second in the line of succession to the presidency.
Before the 2006 elections, the speaker was Republican Dennis Hastert of Illinois. Now it's California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and she may be getting some more leg room. Pelosi reportedly is asking for a much bigger jet — a government version of the Boeing 757 that can make the trip between Washington and her San Francisco home without stopping to refuel.
The speaker's critics have dubbed it "Pelosi One." Military officials are said to be grumbling about it, and she finds herself on the defensive. Today, she insisted that size doesn't really matter.
"It's not a question of size. It's a question of distance. We want an aircraft that can reach California," Pelosi said.
A Defense Department spokesman said Wednesday that the Pentagon informed Pelosi's staff that she would be provided with a plane but that its size would be based on availability.
But an aircraft like that can also comfortably seat 50 — and Republican leader Roy Blunt of Missouri is among those questioning how all those extra seats might get filled.
"If you can say to your supporters 'Do you want to fly with me from San Francisco this week, spend the week in New York and fly back with me,' that's an incredible perk. It's an incredible fundraising tool," Blunt said.
Pelosi's office told CBS News she'll follow all the appropriate guidelines. The problem is there aren't any yet. Because of the flap, the Defense Department are said to be quickly writing the rules for the speaker's plane — with regulations on everything from size to who can go along for the ride.
A Defense Department spokesman said Wednesday that the Pentagon informed Pelosi's staff that she would be provided with a plane but that its size would be based on availability