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March 31, 2023
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s public feud with Republican senators over the Ohio train derailment escalated on Tuesday. Buttigieg called out Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio by name on Twitter.
Rubio has called for Buttigieg’s resignation or for him to be fired several times in the past week, stating that Buttigieg demonstrates “a gross level of incompetence and apathy” and that he has been “completely absent” during major transportation disruptions, which include this month’s derailment of a toxic train payload in East Palestine, Ohio. Scott also lashed out at Rubio on Twitter for not attending the derailment site.
Buttigieg returned fire on Rubio, stating that Rubio had previously carried water for the freight railroads by supporting their campaign to increase automated track inspections therefore reducing inspections by employees.
Rubio accused Buttigieg of lying when he said Rubio’s letter was calling for deregulation. “He is an incompetent who is focused solely on his fantasies about his political future & needs to be fired,” Rubio tweeted.
“The facts don’t lie,” Buttigieg tweeted. “The 2021 letter you signed was obviously drafted by railroad industry lobbyists.”
“Now: will you vote to help us toughen rail safety accountability and fines, or not?” he continued.
On Tuesday, Scott took to Twitter to urge Buttigieg to visit the derailment site. “Hey, @SecretaryPete: the right time for folks in East Palestine is now,” Scott tweeted in response to a CNN story that quoted Buttigieg as saying he would go “when the time is right.”
“When leaders show up, things get done—enough with the excuses,” Scott tweeted. “Show up, do your job and stop playing politics with every crisis you find.”
Buttigieg has come under criticism from Republicans for not attending the derailment site. Buttigieg said the reason for this was to allow the investigators to do their job.
“During the initial response phase, I’ve followed the norm of staying out of the way of the independent NTSB,” Buttigieg tweeted Tuesday in response to Scott’s tweet. “Now that we’re into the policy phase, I’ll be visiting – and I need your help. Will you work with us to toughen accountability standards on freight railroads?”
Buttigieg also referenced DOT’s recent call for policy changes by railroads along with legislative action by Congress, telling Scott, “If you’re serious, I’ll work with you on this.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: FLORIDA POLITICS