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Congressional Flight to Florida: Costs to Consider

by Michael Tasselmyer / /

On Thursday, a contingent of federal lawmakers will be among the thousands expected at a public funeral in Largo, FL, for recently deceased Representative Bill Young (R-FL). At 82 years old, Rep. Young was the longest-serving Republican Member in the House, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has announced that his Chamber will be in recess so that officials can attend the funeral.

In addition to canceling Thursday's session, Boehner has lifted restrictions on Congressional use of military aircraft that were put in place earlier this year, and arranged for a military flight to carry lawmakers to and from the funeral. The flight will reportedly leave on Thursday morning and return to Washington, D.C. later that evening.

So what might the bill look like for taxpayers, who are footing the trip's cost?

Congressional aides and staff from the Air Force and Department of Defense have not offered any cost estimates for the flight, and have not confirmed the type of aircraft that will be in use or even how many legislators plan to attend. But the House passed a resolution on Tuesday night that will allow Members in attendance to expense the trip using House accounts. The table below summarizes the operational costs of some of the planes the Air Force has used to shuttle Congressmen and their staffs in the past. Costs are based on a four-hour round trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Largo, FL.

Plane Commercial Equivalent Cost Per Flight Hour Total Round Trip Cost
C-20 Gulfstream III $37,839 $151,356
C-32 Boeing 757 $42,918 $171,672
C-37 Gulfstream V, 550 $15,709 $62,836
C-40 Boeing 737 $19,755  $79,020

Source: ELP Defense News.

The number and type of planes used for the trip will depend on how many Members of Congress ultimately decide to attend the funeral.

  • According to Boeing, the C-32 seats 45 passengers and the C-40B can fit 26.
  • Gulfstream's C-37 can carry 4 to 6 executive passengers, while the C-20 can seat about 12.

Although the occasion may be a somber one, the lack of detail concerning the flight's cost and the number of officials who will be attending the funeral once again highlight the matter of transparency surrounding Executive and Legislative Branch travel -- an issue NTUF has raised before. For more on the intricacies of Presidential travel, in particular, be sure to review our report from earlier this year.