Tom Price resigns as Health and Human Services secretary
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned from his post on Friday after it was revealed that he had repeatedly chartered private planes for government travel.
“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier Friday and the president accepted,” read a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, adding that Trump intends to designate Don Wright, the current deputy assistant secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as acting secretary.
The revelation about Price’s trips drew widespread criticism from Democrats and an investigation was launched last week by the HHS Office of Inspector General. Price took as many as 26 private flights and flew on military planes on trips to Europe and Africa at an estimated cost to taxpayers of over $1 million, according to Politico.
Earlier in the day, Trump teased a decision on Price’s status to reporters, saying would decide by the end of the day whether he might fire the secretary. He repeated that he was “not happy” about the secretary’s travel, a position he first shared Wednesday.
On Thursday, Price expressed regret over his trips and pledged to reimburse the government for his portion of the cost of the chartered jets.
The resignation comes three days after Senate Republicans announced they would not hold a vote this week on the party’s latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Graham-Cassidy bill. Price played an integral role in promoting the administration’s thus far unsuccessful efforts to roll back the Democratic health care legislation passed under the Obama administration.
Last Friday, the HHS Office of Inspector General confirmed its inquiry into Price’s flights, noting it was focused “on whether the travel complied with Federal Travel Regulations, but may encompass other issues related to the travel.”
“We take this matter very seriously, and when questions arose about potentially inappropriate travel, we immediately began assessing the issue,” read a statement from the office.
After last week’s report, a collection of congressional Democrats authored a letter to the inspector general requesting an investigation. The Department of Health and Human Services maintained that Price “used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule.”
Prior to his nomination by Trump in November to lead HHS, Price served six terms as the U.S. representative of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, rising to the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee in 2015. Prior to his political career, Price worked as an orthopedic surgeon.
He was narrowly confirmed as secretary by a 52-47 margin in February.
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