Posted: 4:22 pm Thursday, September 28th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
The White House on Thursday did nothing to pull back President Donald Trump’s comments that he might fire health secretary Tom Price, as officials said they had asked the Department of Health and Human Services not to allow the former Georgia Congressman to travel on any charter jets while a pair of internal investigations into his travel are completed, as Price issued an apology and said he would fly commercial in the future.
“I regret the concerns that this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars, Price said in a written statement.
“I will take no more charter flights as Secretary of HHS,” Price stated flatly. “No exceptions.”
Price also said he would “write a personal check” to cover the extra expenses of the plane flights that he has taken in recent months.
NEW Price statement on private flights: says he'll stop taking them and reimburse gov for the ones he took already. Not resigning (yet) pic.twitter.com/CnV2FH9VeB
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) September 28, 2017
The statement came soon after the White House had once again made clear the President’s displeasure with Price’s actions, which have grown on a seemingly daily basis in press reports.
“As the President said yesterday, he’s not thrilled – certainly not happy with the actions,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who emphasized that the White House played no role in authorizing such charter flights.
Sanders added that from this point forward, the White House has “asked a halt be put, particularly at HHS, on any private charter flights moving forward, until those reviews are completed.
Sanders was non-committal about Price’s future, saying only, “We’ll see what happens.”
Sarah Sanders: The White House has asked that a "halt" be put on the department of HHS's use of private planes https://t.co/MTAOzZeUQe
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 28, 2017
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Democrats stepped up their criticism of Price and other Cabinet chiefs over their use of private charter jets, demanding to know why this was an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars.
“Taxpayer funds should not be used for luxury, private jet travel,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who joined other Democrats on the floor of the House to criticize Price, EPA chief Scott Pruitt, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for their use of charter aircraft.
“What makes Mr. Price think that he’s above the law and allowed to do this?” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who used a poster board with a quote of Price from back in 2009, where the then-Congressman was complaining about charter jet use by government officials.
As for Price, he was at the White House on Thursday, but officials said he did not have a meeting with the President, though spokeswoman Sanders indicated that he had spoken with Mr. Trump about the matter.
“He is not thrilled with the airplane use,” Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s White House briefing.
Price did have public events during the day on Thursday, but did not take any questions from reporters.
Secretary Price showing up to the press club to talk flu. He ignored me when I asked if he'll resign or pay back taxpayers pic.twitter.com/t3WjUnowco
— Anna Edney (@annaedney) September 28, 2017