Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says he will reimbursing taxpayers for his travel on private charter planes.
In a statement released on Thursday, he said, "Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes."
NPR has inquired with HHS about whether taxpayers will still be covering the cost for support staff who flew with Price on those charter planes, staff who otherwise would have flown commercial.
Reports of his use of private aircraft drew criticism from lawmakers and even President Trump, who told reporters on Wednesday, "I was looking into it, and I will look into it, and I will tell you personally I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it."
The House Oversight Committee sent letters requesting information from the administration about all trips on government-owned or chartered aircraft by nonelected political appointees.
In his statement on Thursday, Price also said he will take no more private charter flights as secretary, "No exceptions." The secretary affirmed his cooperation with the HHS inspector general and internal reviews of the situation.
Politico has reported that Price's private jet travel totaled more than $400,000 and included trips to places where he has friends and family. It is not clear whether Price will be reimbursing tax payers for the full amount or just the fraction of cost his seat on those planes represents.
Price has been under increasing fire for his travel choices, given that commercial flights and trains were often readily available at similar times and drastically lower expense. The issue became a large focus of Thursday's White House press briefing where Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether Price would be able to keep his job leading HHS.
"We're gonna conduct a full review and we'll see what happens," Sanders responded.
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