Will Trump Fire Tom Price? President Upset by Health Secretary's Private Flights

Posted September 28, 2017

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is "not happy" with Health Secretary Tom Price following reports of his extensive use of publicly-funded private jets and indicated he has not ruled out firing the former Georgia congressman over the trips.

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Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., sent a letter to Price Wednesday urging him to "do the right thing" and tender his resignation.

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Politico reported earlier this month that Price had flown on a private charter plane-at the expense of taxpayers-at least 24 times since May, trips estimated to exceed $30,000.

Last week, when stories first emerged about travel by Price on charter flights, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services defended his decision to take private jets instead of commercial flights.

The chartered flights represent a "gross misuse" of public funding, the representatives said. "The American people deserve cabinet secretaries who place the public good above their own private interests".

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The federal contract states it cost $17,760 for the roundtrip private flight, which left Washington Dulles at 9:12 a.m. ET and landed in Nashville at 9:44 a.m. CT. Politico found that there were two flights - American Airlines out of Reagan National Airport and Southwest out of Baltimore-Washington International - that had almost the same exact timelines.

In addition, cheap commercial flights were readily available to all of those locations, but were apparently deemed beneath the secretary's dignity. "I'm going to look at it", said Trump. On a June trip to Nashville, Price also had lunch with his son, who lives in that city, according to Politico.

"I will tell you, personally, I am not happy about it", Trump said.

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Federal regulations stipulate that "official travel on the part of federal employees must be "by the most expeditious means of transportation practicable" and 'commensurate with the nature and goal of the [employee's] duties, ' and by no means should include personal use", according to the letter. 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health MORE said Tuesday that her successor's use of private chartered flights is "stunning".