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No Pat-Downs for Gang Leader

• NY Time

3:37 p.m. | Updated Representative John A. Boehner, soon to be the Speaker of the House, has pledged to fly commercial airlines back to his home district in Ohio. But that does not mean that he will be subjected to the hassles of ordinary passengers, including the controversial security pat-downs.

As he left Washington on Friday, Mr. Boehner headed across the Potomac River to Reagan National Airport, which was bustling with afternoon travelers. But there was no waiting in line for Mr. Boehner, who was escorted around the metal detectors and body scanners, and taken directly to the gate.

Mr. Boehner, who was wearing a casual yellow sweater and tan slacks, carried his own bags and smiled pleasantly at passengers who were leaving the security checkpoint inside the airport terminal. It was unclear whether any passengers waiting in the security line, including Representative Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat who lost his re-election bid, saw Mr. Boehner.

At a Capitol Hill news conference after Election Day, as Mr. Boehner began laying out the changes he would make when he becomes House Speaker, he announced that he would continue to fly commercial airlines (usually Delta) back to Ohio. It was a not-so-subtle dig at the outgoing Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, who had been criticized by Republicans for flying military airplanes when she returned home to San Francisco.

“Over the last 20 years, I have flown back and forth to my district on a commercial aircraft,” Mr. Boehner said at the time, “and I am going to continue to do that.”

And so on Friday, he did. But not without the perquisites of office, including avoiding those security pat-downs that many travelers are bracing for as holiday travel season approaches.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for the Republican leader, said in a statement that Mr. Boehner was not receiving special treatment. And a law enforcement official said that any member of Congress or administration official with a security detail is allowed to bypass security.

“The appropriate security procedures for all Congressional leaders, including Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, are determined by the Capitol Police working with the Transportation Security Administration,” Mr. Steel said.


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