Senate Committee Squabbles Over Flight Seats, Ends Up Demoting Staffers

UNITED STATES - JUNE 13: Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., speak to reporters in Washington on Thursday June 13, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
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June 19, 2019 7:57 a.m.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee bickered about transportation arrangements to attend the late Sen. Thad Cochran’s funeral, ultimately leaving two staffers demoted for their roles in planning the trip.

According to Politico, committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) arranged only for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to ride in a private jet with him to the ceremony. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) wanted in too — but no dice. Shelby said that the plane was too full of his staffers, a big snub to someone as high-ranking as a senator.

Another private plane was procured to transport the rejected senators, though some in Senate Republican leadership balked at the taxpayer-funded cost of the two flights.

Afterwards, Shelby’s top aide Shannon Hines meted out the punishment: two Appropriations staffers could choose to be demoted or be fired. Both took the demotions.

At least Shelby and Leahy’s friendship emerged from the mess stronger than ever. The two flew to the Paris Air Show this weekend.

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