White House asks for halt to charter flights pending Price review

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said Thursday that he regrets his numerous trips aboard private aircraft during his term leading the federal agency and pledged to reimburse the government for the cost of the flights. He left the event after taking his own shot of the flu vaccine without taking further questions from the reporters who chased him down as he was whisked away through the back door.

"The taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes", Price said in the statement. The HHS Office of Inspector General said last week that it has opened an investigation into his travel.

Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday about Price as he departed the White House for a trip to Indianapolis to sell his tax plan. "I am not happy", Trump said. "I am not happy about it, and I let him know it".

Trump declined to say whether he has confidence in Price, and said "we'll see" when asked if he would fire the secretary.

"Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes", wrote Price.

'I've never had the government pay for any of my personal travel, and the limited number of times we've used [military air] it's been for either security, national security issues, when I had to have secure communications ... or where there's been times we couldn't get to places when we needed to be there, ' he said. 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.

"We're gonna conduct a full review and we'll see what happens", Sanders responded.

Price has taken as many as 24 private flights in the past few months, costing the government an estimated $300,000.

In July, Trump joked that Price could be fired if he did not obtain votes necessary for repeal. "I am not happy about it".

Price defended the flights, saying that they were for "official business".

Price also said that, "I have spent forty years both as a doctor and in public service putting people first".

Five House Democrats urged Price to resign in a letter on Wednesday. Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Ted Lieu of California, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Pramila Jayapal of Washington said in a letter that Price breached the public's trust.

  • Rogelio Becker