Marco Rubio demands that Pete Buttigieg resign over handling of train disaster

February 19, 2023

The derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio has resulted in fury being directed towards Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Among those pointing the finger at Buttigieg is Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who insisted this week that the secretary needs to resign. 

Rubio says Buttigieg ignored crises while focusing on woke issues

According to Fox News, Rubio sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday in which he accused Buttigieg of having "downplayed and ignored crisis after crisis" while focusing on "topics of little relevance to our nation's transportation system."

Rubio’s second charge is likely a reference to how much importance Buttigieg has attached to "equity," such as when he complained last week that there are too many white construction workers in minority areas.  

"At no time has that been more apparent than the past two weeks," the Florida senator said. "Secretary Buttigieg refused to acknowledge the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, until his intentional ignorance was no longer tenable."

Buttigieg vacationed ahead of potential rail strike

"Even after acknowledging the tragedy, he continues to deflect any accountability for the safety of our nation's rail system," the conservative lawmaker added.

"The circumstances leading up to the derailment point to a clear lack of oversight and demand engagement by our nation's top transportation official," Rubio continued.

"During historic maritime and surface transportation disruptions in 2021, Secretary Buttigieg was completely absent," the Republican senator complained. 

Rubio recalled how "Secretary Buttigieg left the country to vacation in Portuguese wine country" last year despite there being an "impending possible rail strike."  

GOP senators ask if there has been sufficient rail oversight

What’s more, he pointed to "near misses in commercial aviation, as well as recent system failures, including the one that shutdown air travel in Florida in January," all of which "indicate that serious and persistent problems across the DOT are not being sufficiently remedied."

Fox News noted that for his part, Buttigieg pointed to the Trump administration having withdrawn a proposed rule on the use of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes in response to a law passed by Congress in 2015. 

However, Fox News also reported that Rubio and Ohio Republican Sen. J.D. Vance sent a letter to Buttigieg questioning whether a cost saving measure known as "precision-scheduled railroading" (PSR) contributed to the East Palestine disaster. They also asked if the Biden administration has exercised sufficient oversight. 

"We have voiced concerns with PSR, as well as with this administration’s prioritizing of efficiency over resilience in its national infrastructure and transportation systems," the pair wrote. 

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