Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price's flights cost taxpayers more than $1 million since May, according to a new report which claims the White House approved more than half of that travel on military aircraft.
Price's multi-national trips to Africa an Europe this spring cost taxpayers more than $500,000, Politico reported on Thursday. The secretary's destinations included Berlin, Geneva, Beijing, Tokyo, and Liberia.
Those flights added to the more than $400,000 that taxpayers spent on Price's private charter flights, which, based on statements from the White House, weren't approved by the president.
When asked about Price's charter flights on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said those flights were not approved by the White House. Price told Fox News's Bret Baier that his charter flights received approval through “the normal process.”
The White House approves cabinet secretaries' use of military aircraft on a case-by-case basis, suggesting that it would have known about Price's specific trips.
White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told Politico that use of military aircraft was sometimes “necessary.” “Use of military aircraft for cabinet and other essential travelers is sometimes an appropriate and necessary use of resources,” Shah said.
While former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius never used a military plane, her successor Sylvia Mathews Burwell did to travel to Havana, Cuba.
At least one HHS official defended Price's trips, however, saying they made “total sense.” During his trips, Price met with high-level officials, attended world health meetings, and, in Africa, discussed a response to the Ebola virus.
Amid controversy surrounding him on Thursday, Price announced that he would pay the amount needed to cover the cost of his seat on the charter flights he took.
Watch part of Price's interview below, via Fox News.