March 29, 2023

RECEIPTS: Transportation Secretary shuts down GOP critics in aftermath of train derailment

RECEIPTS: Transportation Secretary shuts down GOP critics in aftermath of train derailment

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Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has some choice words for Senator Marco Rubio after the Florida Republican called for the Secretary’s resignation in the aftermath of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio nearly three weeks ago.

Rubio accused the former South Bend, Indiana mayor of shirking the Department of Transportation’s responsibility to protect the nation’s railways and avoid disasters like the East Palestine tragedy – claims that would prove to be not only off-base but patently false.

“For two years, Secretary Buttigieg downplayed and ignored crisis after crisis, while prioritizing topics of little relevance to our nation’s transportation system,” Rubio wrote in a letter addressed to President Biden last week. “It is painfully clear to the American people that Secretary Buttigieg has little regard for the duties of the Secretary of Transportation.”

But Buttigieg wouldn’t take the senator’s allegations lying down, instead calling out the Senator’s blatant hypocrisy.

“I can’t help but notice the last time this agency heard from him on rail regulation was his signature being on a letter that was pretty obviously drafted by industry, calling on us to weaken our practices around track inspection,” Sec. Buttigieg said.

Rubio, along with chamber colleagues Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) signed a letter in October 2021 asking the Department of Transportation to relax proposed regulations on the rail industry.

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The investigation is being handled by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board – which is independent – complicating the misguided criticism for Sec. Buttigieg’s handling of the situation.

Buttigieg has yet to visit the area of East Palestine, home to approximately 4,000 residents, but the Secretary announced plans to visit the toxic chemical sight sooner rather than later.

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According to HuffPost, Buttigieg didn’t want to disrupt recovery efforts.

“I am very interested in getting to know the residents of East Palestine,” the Biden administration cabinet member said. “When the time is right, I do plan to visit East Palestine.”

On Sunday, the transportation secretary sent a letter to the CEO of Norfolk Southern calling on the railroad company to stop its aggressive lobbying campaign against federal safety regulations.

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Buttigieg has proposed finalization of the rule mandating a two-person crew on trains, and implementation of a Congressional reinstatement of a deadline requiring railroads to upgrade the safety of rail cars, convert to a modern and more effective braking system, and reduce the limit of trains carrying hazardous materials.

“Some of [these proposals] have been met with resistance from industry,” Sec. Buttigieg said, according to the HuffPost. “I think now’s a moment of potential bipartisan cooperation.”

Unfortunately, Sen. Rubio, many of his colleagues,  and the propaganda pushing right-wing media aren’t on the same page.

Original reporting by Kevin Robillard at HuffPost. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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