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Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price resigned today, following the failure of Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the revelations that he spent more than $1 million of taxpayers' money on luxury travel. The White House announced that Don Wright, currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, will become the acting HHS secretary.

What's next: Speculation about who would succeed Price permanently has focused on Seema Verma, who oversees Medicare, Medicaid and parts of the ACA. She's a close ally of Vice President Pence. Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb are also seen as potential candidates.

The full White House statement:

Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted. The President intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017. Mr. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

From Price's resignation letter:

I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives. Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services effective 11:59 PM on Friday, September 29, 2017.

How it happened:

  • Price's stock with President Trump fell significantly after Republicans' repeal-and-replace legislation died in the Senate. Price, a former six-term congressman, got the HHS job in part because of his ties to Capitol Hill, where Trump had hoped he would be the administration's point man on an ACA overhaul.
  • Price's travel on private jets, at taxpayers' expense, only made his job more tenuous. Politico identified 26 times Price chartered private flights for official business, for a total cost of more than $400,000. Those flight often covered short routes for which commercial flights were readily available, and Price sometimes tacked personal business onto his official travel.
  • Price's offer to pay back a small portion of those flights — "my seat," as he put it — didn't help extinguish the controversy, and was followed by revelations that he also used military jets for travel to Europe, bringing his total airfare tab to more than $1 million.
  • Trump is notoriously unhappy with bad press, and Price got a lot of it. He even opened the floodgates to a broader investigation into Trump Cabinet appointees' use of private airfare and other eyebrow-raising spending.

Lasting legacy: Price might not have gotten ACA repeal over the finish line, but even in his short tenure, he was able to undermine the law significantly. Under his leadership, HHS waged a PR campaign against the ACA; slashed funding to help promote enrollment; and directed regional department officials not to assist state-based enrollment efforts.

There's a good chance those efforts will successfully tamp down enrollment, and lower enrollment — especially among the healthier people who are less likely to investigate health insurance on their own — can legitimately weaken the ACA.

Go deeper

48 mins ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.