When President Joe Biden nominated Pete Buttigieg to head the Department of Transportation, many skeptics questioned the qualifications of the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor. More than two years into the job, Buttigieg’s perceived inaction in response to multiple transportation crises has led to increasing backlash from across the political spectrum.
He has previously received bipartisan backlash for his reaction to issues including last year’s rampant airline delays and cancellations — but his handling of a train derailment earlier this month in Ohio has resulted in an even harsher assessment.
The crash reportedly exposed nearby communities to toxic chemicals and officials are concerned about the short- and long-term impact of the situation. Nevertheless, Buttigieg has provided little guidance or evidence of action in response to the threat.
Even far-left U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) spoke out firmly against his inaction, which earned her some rare praise from Fox News Channel host Steve Doocy.
“East Palestine railroad derailment will have a significant negative impact on the health and well-being of the residents for decades, and there is almost zero national media attention,” Omar tweeted, echoing the concerns of many on the right. “We need Congressional inquiry and direct action from Pete Buttigieg to address this tragedy.”
Doocy and his “Fox & Friends” co-hosts clearly sided with her on this issue.
“You know what?” he asked. “Ilhan Omar was right as well. This is going to be something these people are going to have to worry about for years.”
Brian Kilmeade chimed in: “You just hope this has nothing to do with the fact that Ohio is a red state.”
Other prominent figures on the right, including freshman U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), expressed their dismay over the tragic circumstances surrounding the derailment as well as the deafening silence of the Biden administration.
My statement on the train crash in East Palestine. pic.twitter.com/E3IiyKOC2Z
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 13, 2023
“Yesterday, Pete Buttigieg had the opportunity to address this problem,” the Ohio Republican said. “He instead talked about the excessive amount of – this is not a joke – too many white men in the construction industry. That is not a serious concern for this country right now. What is going on in East Palestine is. The Secretary of Transportation needs to focus on real problems, not fake problems.”