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A group of five Democratic members of Congress are calling on Tom Price to resign, following reports of the Health and Human Services secretary’s frequent use of costly chartered flights for government business.
“You have routinely made use of expensive private jets for official travel, bypassing cost-effective alternatives and wasting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars,” the five representatives wrote in a public letter on Wednesday.
“At a minimum, the American people expect cabinet secretaries to lead with integrity, accept accountability, and use public resources responsibly. In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 27, 2017
Politico reported this week that Price opted for private flights over commercial travel 24 times since early May, costing taxpayers more than $400,000. Some of the chartered flights covered distances as small as 135 miles, such as Price’s recent trip from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia. In one instance, Price took a $17,760 private flight to Nashville, where he stayed for less than six hours and had lunch with his son, according to Politico.
A spokeswoman for Price defended the secretary’s use of chartered flights, telling The Washington Post last week, “This is Secretary Price, getting outside of DC, making sure he is connected with the real American people. Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.”
The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday launched an investigation into the traveling habits of Price and other government officials, including Treasury Secretary Scott Mnuchin. It was also reported on Wednesday that Steve Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, flew on a private plane to Oklahoma in July, costing taxpayers more than $14,000.
President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday he was “not happy” with Price and left the door open to dismissing him.