Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Thursday said he would no longer charter private planes for official travel and will reimburse the government more than $50,000 for flights he's already taken.
The secretary is under internal and inspector general reviews for using public funds to pay for private flights for government business when commercial flights and other modes of transportation were available at the same time.
"Today, I will write a personal check to the U.S. Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won't pay a dime for my seat on those planes," he said in a statement one day after President Donald Trump expressed his displeasure with Price.
Price, along with his staff, chartered at least two dozen flights worth about $400,000. HHS said Price is reimbursing the government only for his seats on those flights, $51,887.31.
Price said he regretted how his actions have raised concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars.
"All of my political career I've fought for the taxpayers," he 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."
Earlier Thursday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House called on federal agencies to stop using private chartered flights pending the results of a Price's reviews.
"I am not happy about it. I'm going to look at it. I'm not happy about it and I let him know it," Trump said Wednesday.
"The White House does not have a role in the front end of approving private charter flights at the agencies," Sanders told reporters during the daily press briefing.
We "have asked a halt to be put -- particularly at HHS -- on any private charter flights moving forward ... until those reviews can be completed," she added.
Asked if Price could be fired over the issue, Trump said, "We'll see."
Sanders said it depends on what the reviews find.
"We'll see what happens," she said.
Experts say the failure of Congress to pass legislation repealing the Affordable Health Act could also factor into Price's standing with Trump. In July, Trump joked that Price could be fired if he did not obtain votes necessary for repeal.
"He better get them, otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired,'" Trump said at the time.
Five House Democrats urged Price to resign in a letter on Wednesday.
"In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation," the letter stated. It was authored by Rep. Ruben Gallego , R-Ariz.; Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich.; Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
Democrats noted that Price, who has sought budget cuts at the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and has called the Affordable Care Act inefficient and expensive, often travels on private jets with amenities like kitchens and leather seats.
House oversight committee leaders said Wednesday they would investigate private plane travel by all members of Trump's Cabinet.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story indicated Price was reimbursing the government for the full cost of all chartered flights, not just his seat.