Paul Ryan asked White House not to fire Tom Price

The House Speaker prides himself on being a fiscal conservative but didn't want one of his old buddies punished

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 3, 2017 4:18PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When the White House informed Paul Ryan that they were going to fire Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the house speaker apparently asked them to reconsider.

The phone call was placed to Ryan by White House chief of staff John Kelly on Friday afternoon, according to Politico. It was made not in an attempt to consult Ryan or ask for his approval, but rather as a "heads up" to let him know what was going to happen. Minutes later, the news was made public.

Ryan tried to persuade Kelly to reconsider their decision, pointing to Price's experience both in Congress and the White House. The House Speaker has a longstanding friendship with Price, when they were part of a group of fiscal conservatives who called themselves the "Jedi Council" who would meet for weekly policy breakfasts and were considered to be close allies in Congress on economic issues.

Of course, Price's reputation as a guardian of taxpayers' trust was undermined when it came out that he had cost them more than $1 million since May with his travel practices. Price had flown in private aircraft at least 26 times during that period; on one occasion, he took a charter flight from the Washington-area Dulles International Airport to Philadelphia International Airport that cost roughly $25,000. By contrast, he could have taken a commercial flight for $447 or an Amtrak train for $72.

After Price resigned, Ryan released a statement praising him as a "good man" and "superb health secretary," before adding, "I will always be grateful for Tom's service to this country and, above all, his continued friendship."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Paul Ryan Tom Price