Trump accepts Tom Price's resignation

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PricePress: Drain the swamp – of Scott Pruitt States must hold Trump to his word on working with them to solve ObamaCare Rick Perry's travel cost Energy Department ,560 during first 7 months in office: report MORE resigned on Friday, after an uproar over his use of private jets for official business. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Price offered his resignation to President Trump on Friday, and that Trump had accepted.

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He is the first official to resign from Trump's Cabinet. 

"I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives," Price said in his resignation letter.

"Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation," he continued.

Don Wright, HHS's acting assistant secretary for health, will serve as acting secretary effective Saturday. 

Price's position appeared to be at risk in recent days after Trump made several remarks about being disappointed in his conduct.

Asked by reporters Friday afternoon if Price had offered to resign, Trump replied: "No, but we'll see what happens later on."

It's a stunning downfall for Price, a former congressman from Georgia who was supposed to help bridge the gap between Congress and the administration as Republicans worked to repeal ObamaCare.

Instead, that repeal effort ended in failure this week, and Price is out of office after less than 10 months on the job.    

Price tried to save his job after Politico reported this week that his use of military flights and private jets has cost more than $1 million since May.

Seeking to contain the damage, Price apologized on Thursday and said he would pay for "his seat" on the flights, which comes to about $52,000.

But that did little to quell the uproar. Price's travel seemed to undermine Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" in in Washington, and the controversy was getting heavy play on cable news networks.

The president earlier on Friday said he didn't like the "optics" and was "not happy" with Price.

The controversy over his flights has become a major headache for the White House.

Other administrative officials, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program Pruitt to testify before Senate panel in August Lots of conservatives hate Trump’s coal and nuclear bailout — that’s a big political problem MORE, have also faced criticism in recent days for using private planes for travel.

Price is now being investigated by HHS's inspector general and the House Oversight Committee.

The resignation sets up a huge confirmation fight in the Senate for Price's replacement.

Democrats have accused the administration of trying to sabotage ObamaCare, and whoever is nominated to replace Price will likely face questions about how they would manage the law.

Following the resignation, Democrats including Sens. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan Selling government assets would be a responsible move in infrastructure deal Ignore the naysayers trying to disrupt US diplomacy with North Korea MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Verizon, AT&T call off data partnerships after pressure | Tech speaks out against Trump family separation policy | T-Mobile, Sprint make case for B merger AT&T, Verizon say they'll stop sharing location data with third-party brokers The Memo: Child separation crisis risks ‘Katrina moment’ for Trump MORE, (D-Ore.) seized the moment to argue Trump’s next secretary pick should implement current health care law rather than seek to change it.

“I hope that his resignation will mark the beginning of a new chapter for the Trump administration’s health care agenda,” said Wyden, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, which confirmed Price as secretary.

HHS could be without a secretary for ObamaCare's next open enrollment season, which begins Nov. 1, if a nominee isn't confirmed quickly.

- This story was updated at 5:20 p.m.