Trump fuming over Price's charter flights

Friday, 29 Sep, 2017

A former GOP congressman from Georgia, Price was confirmed as HHS secretary in February on a party line vote of 52-47.

"I'm not happy with Tom". When asked whether he will fire Price, Trump replied, "We'll see".

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has been having a great time flying around the country on wildly expensive private jets, even though commercial options have nearly always been available to him.

Senior administration officials have separately complained that Mr Price was "nowhere to be found" during the Obamacare repeal effort.

In particular, career officials are "aghast" and one person said they were "livid", according to the former Obama administration official. "It's quite another if you're turning over the cost of that to the American taxpayer".

HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest, said this of Politico's report. Just this year he has proposed spending cuts to his own department, as well as the National Institute of Health. He opposes the Affordable Care Act, calling it too expensive and inefficient.

The House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee opened an investigation on Wednesday into travel by top officials. The move by Republicans on the committee - which came days after the ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, had made a similar request of Price - suggested that patience was waning after the unfolding series of disclosures about the secretary.

They requested related information and documents and gave a deadline of October 10.

Officials are required to take the "most expeditious" means of transportation under Federal Travel Regulations.

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In 1991, George H.W. Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, was forced to resign in the wake of a specific kind of scandal: on multiple occasions, Sununu used government resources for his personal travel.

Price said this weekend that he would stop chartering planes until the inspector general's review is complete.

Investigators will seek records of Price's travel and review the justifications that he and his staff gave for the trips, the spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson said.

Politico reported earlier this week that he opted for private travel over commercial flights 24 times since May, including five such flights last week.

Mnuchin was criticised after he and his wife took an Air Force jet on August 21 to meet business leaders in Kentucky and visit the Fort Knox gold reserves.

Sen. Mike Rounds, also of South Dakota, said he is leaving it to the White House to determine whether Price broke the rules and should face punishment.

Days later, Mnuchin flew on a government jet from NY to Washington after a news conference with Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

It's not a full condemnation, but the comments don't bode well for the job security for Price after a week of harsh publicity on his luxurious travel habits. An example is a trip from Washington to Nashville for an event at a medication distributor that Price took on June 6 for $17,760 when round-trip flights for $202 were available.