Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley is demanding answers after learning the Air Force has been using taxpayer money to purchase coffee cups that cost $1,280 each.

Mr. Grassley first asked Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson about the purchases in a letter this month, citing a Fox News report claiming the 60th Aerial Squadron at Travis Air Force base in California purchased dozens of the tumblers, which can reheat beverages in flight, for nearly $56,000 over the past three years.

Fox News said the cups’ fragile handles break easily, and that the entire unit has to be replaced when the handle breaks because replacement handles aren’t available from supplier G&H Aerospace, which declined to comment.

In an Oct. 17 response to Mr. Grassley, Ms. Wilson said the Air Force spent $326,785 on coffee cups since 2016. She agreed that the spending was “irresponsible,” and explained that the Air Force was working on a way to 3-D print the replacement handles for about 50 cents each.

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Mr. Grassley told Fox News that Ms. Wilson’s response was insufficient.

“While I appreciate that the Air Force is working to find innovations that would help save taxpayer dollars, it remains unclear why it cannot find a cheaper alternative to a $1,280 cup,” he said.

“Government officials have the responsibility to use taxpayer dollars efficiently,” he said. “Too often, that’s not the case. I intend to pursue this issue further.”

Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas Jr., director of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, told Fox News Monday that the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command stopped buying the expensive cups as they figure out a more cost-effective solution.

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