Tom Price resigns as Health and Human Services Secretary - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tom Price resigns as Health and Human Services Secretary

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by ALI VITALI

WASHINGTON — Tom Price has resigned as President Donald Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary, the White House said Friday.

Price's resignation follows days of public outcry over multiple reports of Price's private jet travel for government business.

Trump alluded to the secretary's fate as he departed the White House for Bedminster, New Jersey, calling Price a "fine man" but reiterating his displeasure about Price's use of private jets for multiple trips on government business.

"I don't like the optics," Trump said.

The president previously said he was "not happy" with Price after news broke that he'd spent hundreds of thousands of federal dollars on private charters rather than flying commercial. He reiterated those sentiments Friday on the South Lawn of the White House.

On Thursday, Price said he would pay taxpayers back for his seat on the planeand promised to "take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions."

An HHS spokeswoman told NBC News that Price would write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $51,887.31 — making good on his promise to pay for the "expenses of my travel on private charter planes" and ensuring tax payers don't "pay a dime for my seat on those planes."

"I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars," Price said in a statement Thursday. "All of my political career I’ve 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 is not the only member of the president's Cabinet to come under fire for using a private jet for government travel. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have also chartered jets on the taxpayer’s dime since the start of the Trump administration.

Since being confirmed to his position in February, Price was tasked with heralding Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare through Congress. Those attempts repeatedly failed, most recently when the Graham-Cassidy health care bill couldn't garner enough GOP support to make it to the floor for a vote.

While Price's fate hangs in the balance Friday, it's not the first time Trump has threatened his job.

In a July speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, Trump joked about Price's efforts on health care. "You gonna get the votes?" he asked Price, who replied that he hoped so.

"You better," Trump said. "Otherwise I'll say: 'Tom, you're fired!'" 

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