Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended his travel record Thursday morning during a two-hour hearing before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Perry name-dropped United and Southwest as his airlines of choice in downplaying reports that he used expensive private flights to move around in his official capacity as energy secretary.
"I am a frequent flier on Southwest and United," Perry said, pointing out that many of the nation's nuclear labs are in far-away places that may require him to use noncommercial flights.
"The point is, I travel a lot to do my job. I do it in a way I think is thoughtful with taxpayers in mind. And I am going to continue to do my job," Perry told the energy subcommittee. "I will make a commitment to you that I will try to do it in the most thoughtful and reasonable way. Time to time, if I will be in those places in timely fashion, I may do it in a way that does expend taxpayer dollars."
Perry initially brought up the flight issue without being asked, although lawmakers asked follow-up questions.
A number of Cabinet members have come under scrutiny for using private and military chartered aircraft. Tom Price, Trump's former Health and Human Services secretary, was forced to resign two weeks ago after reports showed he spent almost $1 million for private air travel using taxpayer funds.
Perry is one of the more recent agency chiefs to enter the flight scandal. His comments reflected the narrative that the Energy Department used last week in sending documents to the House oversight committee that is probing the travel of all Cabinet heads.
The documents showed that he spent $12,000 on a private flight one day before Price resigned to visit a uranium processor in Ohio and a coal mine in Pennsylvania.
The agency said the travel was ordered by the White House. It also said the flights were justified because of a lack of commercial flights.