Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing pressure to resign his cabinet position by powerful players inside Washington, D.C., according to a report from The Daily Mail.
Buttigieg has been accused of going “AWOL” during the last two years. Critics have accused the former Democratic presidential candidate of “neglecting his duties during a historic supply chain crisis, commercial flight crisis, rail worker strike” and are angered over his tepid response to the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio.
Rather than immediately visiting the Ohio disaster site after a train crash poured dangerous chemicals into the air and water in the rural Ohio community, Buttigieg took a vacation to Europe.
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“Whether it’s waiting weeks to visit East Palestine, vacationing in Portuguese wine country during vital union negotiations, his extended absence during one of the largest shipping crises we’ve faced, or his failure to prevent massive aviation groundings, Secretary Buttigieg has shown an inability to carry out the duties of his office,” Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., told Fox News.
“It’s time for him to resign.”
Waltz led House Republicans to advance a resolution on Tuesday condemning Buttigieg’s track record as transportation secretary and demanded his immediate resignation.
They’re not alone in putting pressure on Buttigieg. After the Ohio derailment, a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers moved to pass the Railway Safety Act of 2023.
The bill aims to address several key regulatory questions that have arisen from the disaster, including why Ohio was not told about the hazardous load and the crew didn’t learn sooner of an impending equipment malfunction.
“Through this legislation, Congress has a real opportunity to ensure that what happened in East Palestine will never happen again,” Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “We owe every American the peace of mind that their community is protected from a catastrophe of this kind.”
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Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said Wednesday that he plans to testify next Thursday at a U.S. Senate hearing on the derailment. Shaw refused to testify before a Pennsylvania Senate committee and is now being subpoenaed to appear next week.
The bill would require railroads to create disaster plans and tell emergency response commissions what hazardous materials are going through their states, as well as various regulations to make shipment by rail safer — but more expensive.
That provision could mean significant changes. Hazardous materials shipments account for 7% to 8% of the roughly 30 million shipments railroads deliver across the U.S. each year.
But railroads often mix shipments and might have one or two cars of hazardous materials on almost any train.
The Association of American Railroads trade group says 99.9% of hazardous materials shipments reach their destinations safely, and railroads are generally regarded as the safest option to transport dangerous chemicals across land.
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Still, the East Palestine accident showed how even one derailment involving hazardous materials can be devastating.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article