Having served less than eight months in the role, as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Tom Price is the shortest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. Secretary Price’s tenure lasted 231 days, from early February 2017 to September 29, 2017. Price was nominated by President Trump on November 29, 2016. The nomination was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on February 1, 2017.
Despite his short amount of time in the role, Price’s time in the role was not without scandal. Price resigned is in part due to public pressure following revelations about his extensive use of charter jets and military aircraft to travel across the United States for government work. Price had spent more than $400,000 on private jets for his travels. Many critics highlight the significant savings that could have been made if he had only used commercial flights instead.
Price had vowed to refrain from using private charter flights for travel in the future and offered to pay back part of the costs incurred, reportedly $51,887, to cover the cost of seats. President Trump said that would be “unacceptable,” leaving him little choice but to tender his resignation.
In his resignation letter, Price said, “I have spent 40 years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives. Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation.”
The White House’s response to Price’s resignation was brief; “Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted.”
Price will be temporarily replaced by the current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Don J. Wright of Virginia. Wright was appointed Acting Secretary of the HHS from 11:59 p.m. on September 29. He will serve in the position until a suitable permanent replacement is found.
There has already been speculation over who will take over Price’s positoin. Scott Gottlieb, the current commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Former Louisiana Gov. and HHS assistant secretary, Bobby Jindal have all been named as potential candidates. The announcement is expected to be made later this year.