- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2019

President Trump’s plans to redesign the iconic Air Force One could be put on hold due to an amendment in the newest House version of the defense budget.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee passed their draft of the National Defense Authorization Act which includes a provision that would effectively block Mr. Trump from unilaterally altering the current light blue and white color design on his presidential plane — a design which has been in place since the Kennedy administration.

Rep. Joe Courtney, Connecticut Democrat, introduced the amendment to a massive defense authorization bill that would require congressional approval for Mr. Trump to do any “work relating to aircraft paint scheme, interiors and livery” of Air Force One.

The panel passed the $733 billion proposed defense budget just hours after the president revealed mock-up drafts of his vision for the next generation of Air Force One to ABC News which calls for replacing the existing paint job for a patriotic red, white and blue color scheme.

“There’s your new Air Force One,” Mr. Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Wednesday, displaying a mock-up of the design.

Since the new Air Force One isn’t due for delivery until the last year of a hypothetical second Trump term in 2024, Mr. Trump observed, “I’m doing that for other presidents, not for me.”

Boeing has a $3.9 billion contract to refurbish the famed aircraft, and the amendment would prevent excessive spending on “less essential items regarding the paint and interior decorating” of the presidential plane.

Mr. Trump — the first president who once ran an airline named after himself — had previously suggested he would like to repaint the Boeing 747-200 presidential aircraft in a red, white and blue motif. But an Armed Services subcommittee in 2017 unanimously approved language requiring any change to the aircraft livery to “comply with the criteria set forth.”

Many Republican members of the committee opposed the amendment at the mark-up of the bill. Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne said the move “looks like an attempt to just poke at the president.”

Minutes before the amendment passed by a 31-26 margin, committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, said “as I understand it, these planes are not even going to be delivered until late 2024, 2025. This president is not going to fly on this plane under any circumstances.”

The legislation still must pass the full House and be reconciled with a similar bill making its way through the Senate.

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