Sen. Rubio calls for Transportation Sec. Buttigieg to resign over toxic Ohio train derailment response failure

February 19, 2023
Ben Marquis

President Joe Biden's administration, particularly Transporation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, has been sharply criticized for their seemingly lackadaisical response to the Feb. 3 train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio that resulted in the spillage and burning of several highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

Now Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is calling for Sec. Buttigieg to either resign or be fired for his display of a "gross level of incompetence" in this and other crisis situations over the past two years, the Conservative Brief reported.

That demand came in a letter that the Florida senator sent to President Biden on Thursday to express his concerns about the secretary's apparent failures with regard to the derailment incident as well as with other situations involving commercial airlines and supply chains, for example.

Absent during major crises

"I write to urge you to request the immediate resignation of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Buttigieg, who has repeatedly demonstrated a gross level of incompetence and apathy that is detrimental to the safety and prosperity of the American people," Sen. Rubio wrote to President Biden.

"For two years, Secretary Buttigieg downplayed and ignored crisis after crisis, while prioritizing topics of little relevance to our nation’s transportation system," he continued. "It is painfully clear to the American people that Secretary Buttigieg has little regard for the duties of the Secretary of Transportation."

"At no time has that been more apparent than the past two weeks. Secretary Buttigieg refused to acknowledge the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, until his intentional ignorance was no longer tenable," the senator noted. "Even after acknowledging the tragedy, he continues to deflect any accountability for the safety of our nation’s rail system. The circumstances leading up to the derailment point to a clear lack of oversight and demand engagement by our nation’s top transportation official."

Alleged abuse of taxpayer dollars

Sen. Rubio proceeded to point out how Sec. Buttigieg had been "completely absent" during the major supply chain crunch that snarled ports in 2021 and how he went on vacation to Portugal while railroad workers were set to go on strike in 2022, and also highlighted recent "near misses in commercial aviation" and systemic failures that shut down most air travel in December and January.

All of that and more "indicate that serious and persistent problems across the DOT are not being sufficiently remedied. I do not have confidence that Secretary Buttigieg is capable of keeping the American people safe," the senator wrote.

Rubio also raised allegations that Buttigieg has "abused taxpayer dollars" by using costly private charter flights for international travel and government aircraft for political purposes -- which in the past have led to resignations and terminations -- and wrote, "The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are not being abused for personal or political purposes by government officials, and that public officials are being held to the same standards regardless of their political affiliation."

"For two years, the transparency and accountability that you promised to obsessively uphold during your inauguration has been nowhere to be found. The incompetence and failure within your administration cannot continue to be ignored when Americans’ health and safety are at risk," the senator concluded. "I hope you will change course in order to uphold your so-far-unmet promise to the American people by requesting the immediate resignation of Secretary Buttigieg."

Others have similarly demanded answers and accountability

The Conservative Brief noted that Sen. Rubio is not alone in calling for Sec. Buttigieg to resign or be fired over his handling of the toxic Ohio train derailment and other incidents, as numerous other Republicans -- and even some Democrats -- have similarly decried the secretary's absence and apparent inaction.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted, "Pete Buttigieg needs to visit East Palestine and explain himself. If he can’t provide the answers Americans deserve, he should resign."

Even Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said in a tweet, "East Palestine railroad derailment will have a significant negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the residents for decades and there is almost zero national media attention. We need Congressional inquiry and direct action from @PeteButtigieg to address this tragedy."

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