Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took military jets to Europe and Asia, Politico reported Thursday evening, bringing the total cost to taxpayers of Price’s travel to more than $1 million since May.
Price has been under scrutiny since Politico began reporting on his extensive use of chartered flights last week. On Thursday afternoon, Price said he would pay back the costs of his own seat on those chartered flights — just over $50,000 out of the total cost of more than $400,000. Taxpayers would be on the hook for the rest.
In a White House press briefing earlier in the day Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the White House did not have a role in authorizing Price’s chartered flights. Politico reported Thursday evening, however, that a White House official had approved the flights Price took on military jets.
Price’s wife also traveled with him on the military flights. An HHS spokesperson told Politico that “Price has reimbursed the agency for the cost of his wife’s travel abroad, but declined to say when he did so.”
“As the president said yesterday, he’s not thrilled – certainly not happy with the actions,” Sanders said.
When Trump was asked earlier this week if he would fire Price over the flights, he said, “We’ll see.”
The news of Price’s many private flights comes on the heels of a key Trump administration priority, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, failing again in the Republican-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) conceded Wednesday that Republicans did not have the votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill.