On Sept. 29, U.S. President Donald Trump accepted the resignation letter of Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price. Price was one of the most vocal critics of the Affordable Care Act and has represented Georgia’s 6th district since 2005. Price was also Chairman of the House Budget committee. Before this, he served in Georgia’s state Senate for four terms, two of which he served as the minority whip.
On Sept. 28, Price attended an opioid abuse event at the White House, with First Lady Melania Trump, showing no inclination to issuing a resignation. Price’s resignation was prompted by criticism of using one million taxpayer dollars to fund private charter flights overseas and in the U.S. In Price’s resignation letter to President Trump, Price stated:
“I have spent 40 years as both a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives – In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation.”
During his time as secretary, Price was strongly against Obamacare and stood behind the White House’s proposal to cut 18% of HHS spending, however, these cuts were opposed by Congress.
Starting in May of 2017, Price took 26 chartered flights to places such as Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, California, Colorado, Illinois, West Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. These chartered flights cost about $400,000, while Price’s international military travel added up to about $500,000.
“I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars,” Price said in his statement issued on Sept. 28. “All of my political career I have fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer.”
Price also announced on Sept. 28 that he would issue a check to the government in the amount of roughly $52,000, which would supposedly cover the cost of his seats on the 26 chartered flights, but not those of his staffers. His statement was not released until Capitol Hill increased their criticism towards his actions. Following the announcement of Price’s resignation, he was regarded with high praise by several congressional Republicans, being referred to as a “good man,”.
“I am not happy, I can tell you,” President Trump said in reference to the events involving Price.
White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders also announced that the HHS should stop approving chartered flights, and instead have requests go through the White House directly. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s chartered and military flights have also been under critical observation due to Price’s abuse.