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U.S. health chief offers to pay part of charter flight costs
From: | Date Add in:2017-10-13 13:32:44 [A  A]

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price said on Thursday that he will pay a portion of the costs of his official travelling on private charter planes.
"Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes," Price said in a statement.
However, the total cost of the private jets Price flew on was reportedly more than 400,000 U.S. dollars and Price would pay only 51,887.31 dollars for his seat on those planes, a NPR report quoted an HHS spokesperson as saying.
Price is not covering the cost for support staff and others who flew with him on those charter planes, staff who otherwise would have flown commercial, according to the report.
In his statement, Price also said he will permanently halt his use of charter flights for official business.
"No exceptions," he said.
Price has been under heavy fire since U.S. media outlets found he had flown on at least 26 private flights since May, including five domestic flights within one week this month.
The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said last week it launched a probe into Price's private jet travel following the media revelations.
"It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer," Price said in Thursday's statement.
Many of Price's flights were between major cities that offered inexpensive alternatives on commercial airlines, including Nashville and Philadelphia. On some of those trips, Price reportedly mixed official business with personal affairs such as having a lunch with his son.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not happy with Price's private jet travel, saying "we'll see" when asked whether he will remove Price over the issue.
The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday launched a bipartisan investigation into the use of private planes by all members of the Trump Cabinet. Senator Chuck Grassley on Thursday sent a letter asking the White House to detail its efforts to control officials' travel costs.
Price has frequently criticized government waste since his appointment as health secretary and during his tenure in the House of Representatives, where he once chaired the House Budget Committee.

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