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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

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.