Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked that President Joe Biden ask Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to resign over his handling of the railway crash in East Palestine, Ohio.
While highlighting the train crash as an example of Buttigieg’s “gross degree of ineptitude and disinterest,” Rubio said that it was merely the most recent in a two-year pattern, according to The Washington Examiner.
The Senator’s Letter
“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 to Biden.
“It is painfully clear to the American people that Secretary Buttigieg has little regard for the duties of the Secretary of Transportation,” he added.
“At no time has that been more apparent than the past two weeks. Secretary Buttigieg refused to acknowledge the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, until his intentional ignorance was no longer tenable,” he wrote.
“Even after acknowledging the tragedy, he continues to deflect any accountability for the safety of our nation’s rail system. The circumstances leading up to the derailment point to a clear lack of oversight and demand engagement by our nation’s top transportation official,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, this is part of a two-year-long pattern. During historic maritime and surface transportation disruptions in 2021, Secretary Buttigieg was completely absent,” the senator added.
“Amidst an impending possible rail strike last year, Secretary Buttigieg left the country to vacation in Portuguese wine country. Near misses in commercial aviation, as well as recent system failures, including the one that shutdown air travel in Florida in January, indicate that serious and persistent problems across the DOT are not being sufficiently remedied.
“I do not have confidence that Secretary Buttigieg is capable of keeping the American people safe.”
Rubio’s comments indicate a rising tide of dissatisfaction with Buttigieg’s management of his position. In only two months, the Department of Transportation, an agency not used to being in the public eye, was shaken by two significant crises.
“His problem has been from the beginning, no matter the controversy, that he’s late to the situation,” Marc Clauson, a professor at Cedarville University in Ohio, told the Washington Examiner. “It’s almost as if he’s waiting to see how the political winds are blowing before he says anything.”\
Support for His Take
Some prominent political personalities who have criticized Buttigieg include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Finally, Rubio stated that failing to remove Buttigieg would be a breach of Biden’s inauguration vow: “For two years, the transparency and accountability that you promised to obsessively uphold during your inauguration has been nowhere to be found. The incompetence and failure within your administration cannot continue to be ignored when Americans’ health and safety are at risk,” he wrote. “I hope you will change course in order to uphold your so-far-unmet promise to the American people by requesting the immediate resignation of Secretary Buttigieg.”