US lawmakers seek to block Trump’s plans for Air Force One livery

U.S. President Donald Trump is eager to move ahead with his plans to change the iconic livery on Air Force One jets from the Kennedy-era blue-and-white palette to a more patriotic paint scheme of red, white and blue. House defense lawmakers, however, are not that thrilled. In a move to prevent the president from repainting the plane, a House panel has drafted legislation to have the Congress block Trump’s intentions.

According to a report by Bloomberg on June 7, 2019, the Trump Team is pressing ahead with the president’s “demand” that Boeing repaint the new Air Force One jets, replacing the blue-and-white livery that has been a trademark of the “flying White House” since the early 1960s.

As for now, the White House Military Office has not given a formal request to change the planes’ design. In a statement to Bloomberg, the U.S. Air Force (UAF) said that the House is “evaluating” red, white, and blue livery options.

But the White House defense lawmakers want their say over Trump’s plans, The Washington Times reports, – they have demanded veto power over Trump administration’s efforts to change the iconic livery, which has graced the presidential plane since President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

This week, Members of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee has drafted legislation that would require congressional approval over the president’s intentions, hoping the Congress would block the Trump Team’s intentions regarding the plane’s paint job.

No to “Baby-blue”, yes to Boeing deal

According to Defense One, which first reported the news of the proposed legislation, the drafted legislation would require the plane’s paint job to “comply with the criteria set forth” in the Boeing-led study titled ‘‘Phase II Aircraft Livery and Paint Study Final Report”, submitted to the Federal Government in 2017.

It was back in 2017 that Trump (who once ran his own airline of the same name) expressed his wish for a new paint job on the presidential plane. From the get-go, his vision was to paint the jets red, white and blue, which he thought was “appropriate,” Trump told CBS NEWS at the time.

“Boeing gave us a good deal. And we were able to take that. But I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors?’ And we’re not,” - President Trump

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembark Air Force One (Image: The White House)

In 2017, the-commander-in-chief negotiated a $4 billion deal with Boeing for two new presidential planes to replace the current Boeing 747-200s, which date back to the 1990s. “Boeing gave us a good deal. And we were able to take that,” Trump was quoted by CBS NEWS. “But I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors?’ And we’re not”.

Over the past few years, however, with all the extensive modifications and new hangars, the price tag of the program, managed by the Air Force, has risen to around $5.3 billion, Defense One writes. According to Bloomberg, the color scheme for the program is not due until 2021. The White House Military Office wants the jetliners to be delivered until 2024.

This week’s proposed legislation to stop the Trump Team from moving ahead with their plans was part of the defense committee’s review of the Pentagon’s national military budget request for the fiscal year 2020. Perhaps the intentions of the lawmakers came not so much from a sentimental side, as due to the considerations over the expenses of the would-be Air Force One livery change.


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Ruta Burbaite
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