Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights and undermining [Donald] Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of a corrupt and entitled capital.
Already in trouble with Mr. Trump for months of unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program [the Patient Protection Act], Mr. Price failed to defuse the president’s anger over his high-priced travel by agreeing to pay a portion of the cost and expressing “regret” for his actions.
In a sharp departure from his predecessors, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.
The secretary’s five flights, which were scheduled between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15, took him to a resort in Maine where he participated in a Q&A discussion with a health care industry CEO, and to community health centers in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, according to internal HHS documents.
The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures, and breaks with the practices of Obama-era secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States.
Price, a frequent critic of federal spending who has been developing a plan for departmentwide cost savings, declined to comment.
Since Politico’s report was published, Trump has openly suggested on several occasions that he might get rid of Price. Price’s departure is officially being characterized as a resignation, but the truth is he was forced out of the regime.
Price — who opposes LGBT rights, reproductive rights, and Medicare — was tapped by Trump as his choice for the role last November. He resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives to join the cabinet, creating a vacancy in GA-06.
Price’s tenure at the Department of Health and Human Services was short… and disastrous. As Secretary, rather than looking out for the well-being of the people of the United States of America, Price tried repeatedly to sabotage the care that millions depend on, including by plotting with his former colleagues in Congress to eviscerate the Patient Protection Act. Fortunately, on that front he failed.
And then, of course, there were the the pricey chartered flights.
“Even before his taxpayer-funded luxury travel was discovered, Secretary Price was an unacceptable choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services — not only given the serious, unanswered questions about improper financial benefits stemming from his work in Congress, but also because of his ideologically driven approach to health care and in particular women’s health and reproductive rights,” said United States Senator Patty Murray in a statement provided to NPI.
“The fact that this decision took this long only indicates the extent to which the Trump Administration allows its senior officials to put themselves, and partisan politics, ahead of families and communities,” Murray added.
“I hope President Trump takes this opportunity to select a new Secretary of Health and Human Services who will truly put patients and families first, and I look forward to a rigorous and comprehensive nomination process.”
U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal called for Price’s resignation in a letter sent last week with several of her colleagues.
“You have routinely made use of expensive private jets for official travel, bypassing cost-effective alternatives and wasting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars,” noted Jayapal and her colleagues Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, who are all Democrats.
“At a minimum, the American people expect cabinet secretaries to lead with integrity, accept accountability, and use public resources responsibly,” the five members wrote. “In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation.”
Donald Trump proceeded to make the same demand. And now Price is out. So no more Mister Price Guy. HHS will need new a new chieftain; let’s hope whoever is nominated by the regime is less extreme than Price was.