Tom Price apologizes for flights, offers reimbursement

Sep 29, 2017, 00:27
Tom Price apologizes for flights, offers reimbursement

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One in flight during a trip with US President Donald Trump to Beaver, West Virginia, July 24, 2017.

Mr. Price also said that he would cooperate with the department's inspector general's office on a review of his travel.

The controversy surrounding HHS Secretary Tom Price's taxpayer-financed private travel became a little more serious for the cabinet secretary today - because congressional Republicans stopped defending him. Price's travel habits are under investigation from the HHS Office of Inspector General and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The statement from Price comes after a heated few days between Price and President Trump. "I'm not happy about it and I let him know it", Trump said Wednesday. "It has been my personal honor to serve the American people, and I look forward to continuing that service". And, when asked by reports whether he intends on firing Price, he simply responded, "We'll see".

Trump has fumed about Price's use of private jets to travel around the country on routes easily accessible by commercial means.

Government officials, except those dealing with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work-related travel. As HHS secretary, he has questioned whether the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income people delivers results that are worth the billions of dollars taxpayers spend for the coverage.

A spokesperson for the Inspector General, now reviewing the case, said, "we take this matter very seriously, and when questions arose about potentially inappropriate travel, we immediately began assessing the issue".

"I will take no more charter flights as Secretary of HHS", Price stated flatly.

In July, Trump joked that Price could be fired if he did not obtain votes necessary for repeal. The secretary, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are each now the subject of inquiries by their respective inspectors general over flights and the House Oversight Committee this week launched an investigation into federal agency travel.

"I was looking into it and I will look into it", Trump said.

Back in August, the president was asked if he still had confidence in Steve Bannon, then a senior strategist in the White House. It was authored by Rep. Ruben Gallego, R-Ariz.; Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich.; Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.