WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price compares a copy of the Affordable Care Act (R) and a copy of the new House...
Alex Wong

How much longer can Tom Price remain in Trump's cabinet?

— Updated

The controversy surrounding HHS Secretary Tom Price's private-jet travel has steadily grown more serious over the last week, and it's hardly unreasonable to think in a normal administration, the far-right cabinet secretary would have to resign in disgrace. What we don't know, however, is whether Price's boss is thinking along these lines.

Donald Trump spoke briefly to reporters yesterday afternoon, and fielded a couple of questions about his scandal-plagued Health and Human Services secretary.

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you still have confidence in Secretary Price?

TRUMP: I am going to see. I'm looking at that very closely. I am not happy with it. I will tell you I am not happy with it.

REPORTER: (Inaudible) would you fire him, sir?

TRUMP: We'll see.

It's worth noting for context that a month ago, the president spoke to the Boy Scout Jamboree, and Price was on hand for the event. Early on in his remarks, referring to a Senate vote on ACA repeal that was scheduled for a few days later, Trump said he was counting on the HHS secretary to help "kill this horrible thing known as Obamacare."

Turning to Price, the president added, "Are you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he'd better. Otherwise I'll say, 'Tom, you're fired.'"

I mention this because Trump now has two reasons to oust Price from his post: he didn't help Congress pass a regressive GOP health care plan and he's caught up in a scandal involving the misuse of public funds.

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, several congressional Democrats yesterday called on Price to resign.

"At a minimum, the American people expect cabinet secretaries to lead with integrity, accept accountability, and use public resources responsibly. In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation," Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) wrote in a letter to Price.

The Democratic leadership has not yet issued a similar call. Congressional Republicans, to date, have been indifferent to the controversy.