03:38 GMT +323 September 2019
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    Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

    US Health Secretary Tom Price Resigns Following Travel Scandal

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    Former US Congressman and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price left the Trump administration Friday afternoon.

    Price recently racked up at least $1 million in expenses — with the White House's prior authorization — on jet trips around the US and to Asia, Africa and Europe. In one case, Price took a $25,000 round-trip flight from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia when a government employee could make the same flight for about $725 flying on a commercial airliner with tickets purchased by the government's procurement arm, the General Services Administration (GSA).

    "Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier and today the President accepted," the White House press secretary said in a statement September 29. 

    "The president intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017. Mr. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion," the statement said.

    Earlier on Friday afternoon, US President Donald Trump called Price "a very fine man" before adding, "I certainly don't like the optics. I'm not happy, I can tell you that. I'm not happy."

    Earlier this week, five members of Congress called on Price to resign. "At a minimum, the American people expect cabinet secretaries to lead with integrity, accept accountability, and use public resources responsibly," Reps. Jamie Raskin (MD), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Ted Lieu (CA), Brenda Lawrence (MI), and Pramila Jayapal (WA) wrote in a letter addressed to the HHS chief. 

    "On September 19, POLITICO reported that you had chartered a private jet on several short official trips, including a $25,000 private flight from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia and back — a trip that would at most cost $725 round-trip on a commercial airline," the letter says. "It has since come to light that you have taken more than 24 privately chartered flights in your time as Secretary, costing the Department of Health and Human Services more than $400,000. This represents a gross misuse of public funds that could have been spent on efforts to improve the health and well-being of the American people."

    Price would later offer to pay a small fraction of what he called "my seat," a statement that did not help Price's cause in the public eye. New parts of the story emerged Price took military jets to transit to Europe, increasing his taxpayer tab to at least $1 million, Axios reports.

    The former six-time congressman flagrantly failed to make good on Republican's biggest campaign talking point for seven years — the so-called "repeal and replace" of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Attempts to dismantle the legislation have failed on multiple occasions and under different legislative disguises, including Sen. Rand Paul's "Skinny Repeal," Speaker Paul Ryan's "American Health Care Act," Sen. Mitch McConnell's "Better Care Reconciliation Act" and, most recently, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy's bill, which McConnell would not even put on the floor of the Senate for a vote to save himself and his party the embarrassment of its inevitable failure.


    Tom Price Cuts HHS Spending by Taking Five Private Jet Flights in One Week
    private jet, jet, spending, scandal, travel, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), US Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, United States
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