White House budget director Mick Mulvaney issued a memo outlining restrictions on the use of private jets shortly after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned Friday.
“With few exceptions, the commercial air system used by millions of Americans every day is appropriate, even for very senior officials,” the memo reads. “Therefore, all travel on Government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft, except space available travel and travel to meet mission requirements (as those situations are defined in Circular A-126) shall require prior approval from the White House Chief of Staff.”
The new restrictions were handed down after Price announced his resignation amidst public outcry related to his spending nearly $1 million in taxpayer money on air travel since beginning his tenure.
The travel spending spree, first reported by Politico, prompted backlash from ethics watchdog groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who accused Price, a fiscal conservative, of hypocrisy.
Price, who spent roughly $400,000 on private jets and another $500,000 on military planes, vowed Thursday to reimburse tax payers for the cost of his seat on jets chartered in his name. The reimbursement, which amounted to only $52,000 of the nearly $1 million in total cost to tax payers, proved insufficient.
President Donald Trump admitted Friday that he was considering firing Price, telling reporters he was “not happy” and would make a final decision by Friday evening. Price issued a resignation statement hours later in which he admitted regret over “the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars.”
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