Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a rigid message about spending taxpayers' dollars wisely after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned on Friday after it was revealed he used nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to pay for travel on private jets and military aircraft over the past few months.
In a statement on Price's resignation, Grassley said taxpayers should "get the most bang for the buck" and expensive travel for government officials should be avoided.
"Those who work for the taxpayers need to get the most bang for the buck at all times," Grassley said in a statement. "Unnecessary or expensive travel is to be avoided. It's not just the cost of the flights. It's also whether attending a conference or a meeting overseas and planning a vacation around those events is in the public's best interests when there's so much work to do and when the national debt is so high. Taxpayers wonder how priorities are set when they see things like that."
He added that he hopes "the President will stress the importance of all of this to everybody in his cabinet so the expensive flights stop, and we can focus on the important issues before us."
The Trump administration already appeared to be making adjustments to avoid further air travel controversies. In a letter sent out to heads of federal agencies by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, he said some top administration officials will now require prior approval from White House chief of staff John Kelly to travel on government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft.
Price was just one of several Cabinet officials facing scrutiny over their use of private or military aircraft to travel instead of commercial flights, a list which also includes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Grassley urged President Trump earlier this week to reduce the expensive travel and asked what measures were being taken to reduce this kind of behavior.
"Given the news reports and inspector general reviews at three agencies, please detail what steps the administration has taken to ensure that cabinet secretaries use the most fiscally responsible travel in accordance with the public trust they hold and the spirit and letter of all laws, regulations, and policies that apply," he wrote.