Trump casts doubt on Tom Price's future after use of private charter planes

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo - RTSTR8O

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Last Updated Sep 27, 2017 2:33 PM EDT

President Trump told reporters on Wednesday he is "not happy" with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has come under fire for using a private plane to conduct his daily business, leaving open the possibility of firing price. 

Mr. Trump, asked if he would fire Price, said, "We'll see." He said of Price's use of the private plane, "I'm going to look at it. I'm not happy about it and I let him know it," as he prepared to depart for Indiana to announce his tax framework. 

Price is one of three cabinet secretaries under fire for his government-funded travel expenses, the other two being Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Price's travel, first reported by Politico, includes, by Politico's count, at least $400,000 spent on at least 24 private charter plane flights, often on jaunts where commercial travel options were available. HHS insists there were only 11 flights, related to hurricane travel and work on the opioid crisis.

Price told Fox News on Saturday that he will not take a private charter flight while HHS' inspector general is investigating Price's travel. 

"The optics in some of this don't look good, and that's why we again have taken this criticism to heart," Price told Fox News.

Price said HHS takes those criticisms "very seriously." 

"We've heard the criticisms," Price told Fox News. "We've heard the concerns. And we take that very seriously, and have taken it to heart. As you mentioned, the inspector general is going through a review and an audit of this process and we will cooperate fully with it. I've instituted or initiated as well an internal or departmental review of the procedures and processes that we go through for official travel to determine whether there are any changes or reforms that are necessary. And if there are, then we look forward to instituting those, because we welcome this review."

The Price travel story comes as HHS is looking to slash its budget and programs, and as Mr. Trump himself is under fire for the mounting costs to fund his frequent travel to his clubs in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Palm Beach, Florida. The story also comes as Republicans' last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare — a move Price staunchly supported — is officially dead on Capitol Hill. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.