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Thursday, February 08, 2007
Sergeant at Arms: I requested larger plane, not Pelosi
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House Sergeant at Arms said Thursday he was the one who requested a larger military aircraft to transport House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to her San Francisco district non-stop, not the California Democrat herself as some GOP critics have alleged.

"The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable. This will ensure communications capabilities and also enhance security," House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood said in a statement. "I made the recommendation to use military aircraft based upon the need to provide necessary levels of security for ranking national leaders, such as the Speaker."

Some Republicans have taken issue with the size of the plane required to fly Pelosi to California without stopping to refuel. The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, said Pelosi's desire for a large transport plane is "an extravagance of power that the taxpayers won't swallow."

"I regret that an issue that is exclusively considered and decided in a security context has evolved into a political issue," Livingood added.

Earlier Thursday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow defended Pelosi, telling reporters, "This is a silly story, and I think it's been unfair to the Speaker."

Responding to GOP critics earlier today, Pelosi called the accusation that she personally requested a larger plane "a myth" and said "they have nothing to say to the American people about the war or about the economy or about global warming.... They have this game they are playing."

-- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
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