Biden has full confidence in ‘Mayor Pete’ after 2nd train derails with toxic chemicals in Midwest: White House

President Biden still has “full confidence” in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg despite the ongoing frustration with his department’s handling of two toxic train derailments in the Midwest. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Biden’s confidence in Buttigieg during a press briefing Thursday. A reporter pressed Jean-Pierre on the issue after critics in both Washington and Ohio have blasted Buttigieg for poor communication and leadership amid a series of dangerous derailments. “Secretary Buttigieg has gotten some criticism, much of it in Ohio, some from Democrats and Republicans, who are he waited too long to respond, and that he seems to be fixated on trying to deflect blame to the previous administration,” a reporter began. “So is the president satisfied with the government’s response to this derailment, and does he have confidence in Secretary Buttigieg.” “Yes, absolutely,” Jean-Pierre responded immediately. “I can answer that very quickly and with confidence from here that we do have absolute confidence in Mayor Pete–I always say that–in Secretary Buttigieg.” OHIO DISASTER PROMPTS BIPARTISAN CALLS FOR EPA, NTSB TO ACT TO ENSURE RESIDENT SAFETY Jean-Pierre’s statement comes as a second train derailed in Michigan, with one of the affected cars containing toxic chemicals. Another train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier in February, and toxic chemicals there had to be burned in a controlled release, causing a massive plume of smoke and a brief evacuation of the nearby area. OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT: BIDEN EPA ADMINISTRATOR, SENATORS TO VISIT EAST PALESTINE CLEAN-UP Buttigieg attempted to shift blame for the disasters onto former President Trump’s administration on Tuesday. He claimed he had been “constrained” by the Trump administration, stating that the Department of Transportation in 2018 withdrew a proposed rule that would require trains carrying some dangerous chemicals to use electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes. At the time, the Department of Transportation said that the technology’s benefits weren’t conclusive. “We’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015), but we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe,” Buttigieg wrote at the time. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, was one of many outraged at Buttigieg’s response, telling Fox News Digital that he planned to stay focused on the concerns of East Palestine residents rather than playing the “blame game.” “If someone wants to play the blame game now, that’s their decision, but I’m going to stay focused on the residents of East Palestine and the tasks at hand,” the Congressman wrote. “Right now, I’m focused on making sure the residents of East Palestine are safe, secure, get the help they need, and have their questions answered. The ongoing cleanup efforts must be completed, and the ongoing air and water testing must continue. Right now, we need to let the investigators with the NTSB do their job and determine the cause of this crash.”
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