Republicans Press Buttigieg For Answers On Train Derailment

GOP lawmakers are demanding that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg provide answers about his agency’s handling of the railroads amid major concerns about the train derailment in Ohio that caused toxic material to spill out of the wreckage.

The incident occurred in early February, where a more than 100-car train transporting toxic materials derailed near East Palestine, Ohio — prompting a mass evacuation. According to Just The News, “Officials began releasing the toxic materials to avert an explosion, though flames have appeared at the site.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) sent a letter on Wednesday demanding Buttigieg provide details about the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) oversight of the train systems.

“[W]e request information from the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding its oversight of the United States’ freight train system and, more generally, how it balances building a safe, resilient rail industry across our country in relation to building a hyper-efficient one with minimal direct human input,” the senators wrote.

Rubio and Vance went on to cite a recent increase in train derailments — highlighting concerns over the practice of precision-scheduled railroading (PSR), a process by which railroads attempt to reduce costs by using minimal workers on larger trains.

“While officials at the department’s Federal Railroad Administration have said that data are inconclusive when it comes to the effects of PSR on rail safety, derailments have reportedly increased in recent years, as has the rate of total accidents or safety-related incidents per track mile,” they wrote. “The trade-off for Class I rail companies, of course, has been reduced labor costs, having shed nearly one-third of their workforce.”

The lawmakers provided a deadline for Buttigieg — informing him that he has 30 days to turn over information about the DOT’s position on PSR, any data regarding the effects of the process and an explanation for why the derailed train was not classified as a “high-hazard flammable train” despite transporting extremely hazardous and flammable materials.

This is just the latest criticism of Buttigieg — who was once a rising star in the Democrat Party. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor and failed presidential candidate somehow managed to fail upwards and get a position on President Joe Biden’s cabinet, despite having little to no qualifications.

Meanwhile, critics have blasted Buttigieg throughout his time in office over being absent during times of crisis. From taking a nearly three-month paternity leave during the supply chain crisis, to taking a paid vacation in Porto, Portugal, during major negotiations between railroads and rail workers to prevent an economy-crippling strike — the transportation secretary has a pattern of avoiding his job when things are tough.

While many predicted that Buttigieg was being groomed to become the Democrats’ next top presidential candidate, his political prospects have faded in light of criticism of the numerous failures that occurred on his watch — including mass airline cancellation problems and the latest news of increased train derailments. His constant absence, these major screw-ups and his continued use of taxpayer-funded travel for personal reasons despite pushing Americans to give up fossil fuels for the climate have all led to many Americans calling for his removal from office.