President Donald Trump said he would decide the fate of Health Secretary Tom Price "sometime tonight" as he weighs whether to fire the Georgia Republican for billing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of travel on private jets.
The president has repeatedly expressed his frustration with Price in the wake of reports documenting his pricey trips around the world on the public's dime. A review by Politico revealed that Price has tallied more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded trips to locales from Africa to Georgia’s coast.
"He's a very fine man. I certainly don't like the optics," he told reporters. "I'm not happy, I can tell you that. I'm not happy."
Price, who represented a suburban Atlanta district for six terms, has tried to quell the uproar by promising to reimburse taxpayers for part of the costs of his travel on private charter planes. And he said he will stop taxpayer-funded travel on private jets and cooperate with a review of his travel by his department’s inspector general.
A half-dozen House Democrats have since called for Price's resignation. His onetime Georgia colleagues, meanwhile, have largely kept their distance, saying that they would withhold judgement until after the health department's inspector general finishes its review of Price's travel.
"All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers," Price said. "It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer. I know as well as anyone that the American people want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely by government officials."