A Member of President Trump’s Cabinet Has Resigned
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s health secretary resigned Friday after his costly travel triggered investigations that overshadowed the administration’s agenda and angered his boss. Tom Price’s regrets and partial repayment couldn’t save his job.
The Health and Human Services secretary became the first member of the president’s Cabinet to be pushed out in a turbulent young administration that has seen several high-ranking White House aides ousted. A former GOP congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, Price served just eight months.
Publicly, Trump had said he was “not happy” with Price for repeatedly using private charter aircraft for official trips on the taxpayer’s dime, when cheaper commercial flights would have done in many cases.
Privately, Trump has been telling associates in recent days that his health chief had become a distraction and was overshadowing his tax overhaul agenda and undermining his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of corruption, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The flap prompted scrutiny of other Cabinet members’ travel, as the House Oversight and Government Reform committee launched a governmentwide investigation of top political appointees. Other department heads have been scrambling to explain their own travel.
Price’s repayment of $51,887.31 for his own travel costs and his public expression of regrets did not placate the White House. The total travel cost, including the secretary’s entourage, was unclear. It could amount to several hundred thousand dollars.
An orthopedic surgeon turned politician, Price rose to Budget Committee chairman in the House, where he was known as a fiscal conservative. When Price joined the administration, Trump touted him as a conservative policy expert who could write a new health care bill to replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
But Price became more of a supporting player in the GOP’s futile health care campaign, while Vice President Mike Pence took the lead, particularly in dealing with the Senate. The perception of Price jetting around while GOP lawmakers labored to repeal “Obamacare” —including a three-nation trip in May to Africa and Europe— raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill. Price flew on military aircraft overseas.