Trump Administration's 'Extravagant' Air Travel Prompts Democrats' Call for Hearings

House Democrats have called for hearings into the way Donald Trump's administration spends money on itself after a number of scandals over air travel, including the ouster of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, the ranking Democrat on one of the group's subcommittees, wrote a letter to Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy asking for hearings.

"Many agencies—including the White House—have refused to provide the information our Committee has requested to conduct our investigation, and without subpoenas, we cannot effectively investigate this matter," the congressmen wrote. "We request that you hold a hearing on the extent of these improper flights and why the White House and several agencies have refused to provide the requested documents."

Gowdy and Cummings had started an investigation into the administration's air travel last year but have not yet received all the information it had requested. Cummings has asked Gowdy to subpoena the administration for requested documents.

Gowdy did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

In a Medium post, the Democratic members of the Oversight Committee cited, as evidence for the hearings, a number of incidents in which the Trump administration's questionable flight use had made news.

Last year, Price resigned amid criticism over his use of charter flights at taxpayers' expense. Price had spent over $1 million on private and military flights while in office, Politico first reported.

In June of last year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke chartered a private plane owned by oil company executives between Las Vegas and an airport near his home in Montana for more than $12,000, when commercial flights cost only a few hundred dollars, The Washington Post reported.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent $105,000 on first-class flights in his first year in office, according to documents acquired by the Oversight Committee. While in Washington, D.C., Pruitt stayed at a condo owned in part by the wife of the head of a lobbying firm, according to The New York Times. One of its client's projects was approved by the EPA—a development that concerned the Democrats.

Watchdog nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) revealed last month that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent nearly $1 million on military air flight last year instead of using commercial flights.

"This administration's use of expensive private flights is not a series of isolated incidents. Congress should absolutely be investigating," said Jordan Libowitz, communications director of CREW, told Newsweek.

Cummings did not respond to Newsweek's request for a comment beyond the letter.

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House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings speaks to reporters. Cummings has called for hearings into flight use by members of the Trump administration. Win McNamee/GETTY
Trump Administration's 'Extravagant' Air Travel Prompts Democrats' Call for Hearings | U.S.