Price says he will pay taxpayers back after private jet controversy
Price says he will pay taxpayers back after private jet controversy
The US President told reporters of his displeasure with the Health and Human Services Secretary
29 September, 2017, 00:28
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Pricesaid Thursday that he will no longer take private chartered planes and will repay the U.S. Treasury for the costs of his prior trips.
In his statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says, "I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS". The secretary affirmed his cooperation with the HHS inspector general and internal reviews of the situation. I'm going to look at it.
"I'm going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it".
Asked if Price could be fired over the issue, Trump said, "We'll see".
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded an explanation for Price's travel costs, and Sen. Price noted that all the travel has been "approved by legal and HHS officials" but said he will stop using private charter flights. However, these taxpayers funded flights have come under scrutiny, as numerous Secretary's flights have overlapped the personal time, including the use of the private jet for a lunch with his son.
Earlier Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee began its own inquiry into federal agency travel.
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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".
Asked if there were any new air travel rules, Mnuchin said: 'I can tell you that no, there's been no different directives as it relates to me. Politico first reported Price's use of private planes last week, alleging the health secretary took at least 26 private flights on taxpayers' dime, incurring charges of more than $400,000.
"What makes Mr. Price think that he's above the law and allowed to do this?" said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who used a poster board with a quote of Price from back in 2009, where the then-Congressman was complaining about charter jet use by government officials.
Trump's comments seemed to take the health secretary's office by surprise.
A number of House Democrats have signed a letter demanding Price's resignation.
Price has been under increasing fire for his travel choices, given that commercial flights and trains were often readily available at similar times and drastically lower expense.
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