Price says he will reimburse US treasury after revelations that he billed the government for $400,000 for the flights instead of taking commercial jets

The health and human services secretary Tom Price apologized on Thursday for taking private charter flights for official business, and said he would repay the treasury for the relevant costs.

Price has come under pressure after it was revealed that he billed the US government $400,000 for private flights instead of commercial travel.

The scandal, which has also insured the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt come under scrutiny, has raised the ire of Donald Trump. On Wednesday the president told he was ” not happy” with Price considering his private travelling.

Politico first reported that Price was employing private charter airliners instead of commercial flights. The health department’s inspector general is reviewing the issue.

In a statement released on Thursday, Price said:” Today, I will write a personal check to the US treasury for the expenses of my travelling on private charter aircrafts. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those airliners .”

He added:” I will take no more private charter flights as secretary of HHS. No exceptions .”

Price will merely refund the governmental forces for his share of the private travelling- $51,887.37- not the full cost of the flights.

In a statement, a HHS spokesperson said:” What the secretary has done is say that while all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials, the secretary has heard the taxpayers’ concerns and wants to be responsive to them.

” That’s why he’s taking the unprecedented step of refunding the government for his share of the travel. Secretary Price will write a personal check to the US Treasury for $51,887.31. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for his seats on charter aircrafts .”

In his statement, the former Georgia congressman said:” I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. 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 fear for the taxpayer .”

Price’s flights, which included two journeys to locatings where he owns property, became a political flashpoint on Capitol Hill.

The Iowa Republican senator Charles Grassley sent a letter to the White House asking for information on the use of private airplanes by Price and several other cabinet members.

The House oversight committee, meanwhile, sent a letter to 24 government agencies regarding the use of” private non-commercial traveling for official reasons “.

Prior to his appointment to Trump’s cabinet, Price served 12 years in Congress, representing suburban Atlanta. While on Capitol hill, the former orthopedic surgeon was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act and a leading Republican voice on health policy issues.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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