Defense-Arranged Flights for Members of Congress To Vote on the Peacekeeper (MX) Program

NSIAD-85-40: Published: Jan 18, 1985. Publicly Released: Feb 4, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on flights that the Department of Defense (DOD) arranged for certain members of Congress so that they could vote on the MX missile program.

GAO found that nine members of Congress were provided military transportation to and from Washington, D.C. so that they could vote on the missile program. The Air Force and the Army flew six congressmen to Washington when regularly scheduled commercial flights were available but did not match the military aircrafts' departure times. Military transportation cost approximately $10,000 more than commercial transportation for these trips. In addition, the Air Force provided four congressmen with military transportation to their home states after they voted when regularly scheduled commercial flights were available. The cost of this military transportation was approximately $15,000 more than commercial transportation. Both the Air Force and the Army felt that the flight authorization was justified because the travel was in connection with official business. GAO found that, in providing this transportation, DOD did not violate any lobbying statutes; however, there is no authority for the flights in either appropriation laws or DOD internal directives. While GAO found no authority for the transportation in question, it found that it was not unusual for DOD to provide members of Congress with transportation to Washington to enable them to vote. In view of the circumstances, Congress may wish to clarify its intent either by providing explicit authority for the provision of such transportation or by clearly prohibiting the practice.

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