Senate Dems call out Price for hypocrisy in use of charter jets

Senate Dems call out Price for hypocrisy in use of charter jets
© Getty

Top Senate Democrats on Thursday slammed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceOvernight Health Care: Funding bill could provide help for children's health program | Questions for CVS-Aetna deal | Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill Warren questions Conway's role in curbing opioid epidemic Trump promised ‘best people’ would run government — they upended it MORE for using private charter planes for official government travel, accusing him of hypocrisy.

The decision to use charter flights “is particularly shocking as you serve in an administration that routinely calls for draconian spending cuts and a reduction in government waste,” nine senators said in a letter released this morning.

The letter was led by Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Your willingness to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on your own travel comforts raises serious questions, particularly given your career-long campaign against what you consider excessive government spending,” the Democrats wrote.

The focus on Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary is intensifying following a series of Politico reports on Price’s repeated use of private jets, at taxpayer expense, for official travel. Some of the flights overlapped with personal time, including a lunch with his son.

Price’s job could be at risk, as President Trump on Wednesday refused to rule out his firing.

The flights are now the subject of an investigation by his department's inspector general. Price said this week he will stop using charter flights but has suggested that the accusations are politically motivated by critics of the Trump administration.

In the letter, the Democrats quoted a floor speech Price made against government waste when he was a congressman in 2005, as well as an interview he gave in 2009 criticizing the use of private jets by Congress.

“The Administration’s priorities could not be clearer,” the senators wrote.  “Administration officials travel to resorts and nearby cities on private planes while patients and families worry about access to the health care programs they rely on to survive.”