House Republicans Say Buttigieg ‘Neglecting His Duties’ in Call for Resignation

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 1, 2023Politics
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House Republicans Say Buttigieg ‘Neglecting His Duties’ in Call for Resignation
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (C) visits East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 23, 2023.(Getty Images)

A group of Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives has introduced a resolution calling for Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to resign over his handling of the East Palestine train derailment last month—as well as other transportation issues that have arisen under his leadership at the department.

On Tuesday, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced H.Res. 188 condemning Buttigieg. The resolution was co-sponsored by Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Mary Miller (R-Ill.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Mike Collins (R-Ga.), and George Santos (R-N.Y.).

Buttigieg’s leadership has come under heightened scrutiny from Republicans after a number of transportation-related issues that have arisen over the past two years.

During his time as transportation secretary, Buttigieg has been involved in efforts to resolve U.S. supply chain disruptions and avert a rail workers’ strike.

Under Buttigieg’s watch, thousands of U.S. commercial flights have been canceled or delayed. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency of the Department of Transportation, experienced a malfunction in its crucial Notice To Air Missions (NOTAM) system for the first time in history, leading to all flights being grounded for several hours.

Less than a month after the FAA flight system malfunction, a train carrying hazardous waste derailed as it was traveling through East Palestine, Ohio. Buttigieg did not publicly address the derailment for 10 days.

“Over the last two years, Secretary Buttigieg has gone AWOL during multiple national crises,” Waltz said in a press release. “From failing to immediately respond to last month’s major economic, environmental, and humanitarian disaster in East Palestine to neglecting his duties during a historic supply chain crisis, commercial flight crisis, rail worker strike, and so much more, Buttigieg has endangered and failed the American people time and time again. That’s why I am calling for his resignation.”

NTD News reached out to Buttigieg’s office for comment but he did not respond before this article was published.

The Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee has already begun investigating Buttigieg’s response to the East Palestine derailment incident. During his first visit to East Palestine nearly three weeks after the derailment incident, Buttigieg agreed that he had taken too long to address the disaster—but said he was trying to balance his own desire to speak out on the issue with the need to let the proper authorities investigate the matter.

“I was taking pains to respect the role that I have and the role that I don’t have, but that should not have stopped me from weighing in about how I felt about what was happening to this community,” Buttigieg said last week.

Biden Admin Calls for Regulations

Following the East Palestine derailment, Buttigieg and President Joe Biden have both called for increased railway safety regulations.

“Congress should join us in implementing rail safety measures,” Biden said in social media posts after calling elected officials in Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania on Feb. 21. “But the Department of Transportation is limited in the rail safety measures they can implement. Why? For years, elected officials—including the last admin—have limited our ability to implement and strengthen rail safety measures.”

That same day, Buttigieg also released a statement through the Department of Transportation, calling for the rail industry to support new regulations.

In a set of tweets on Feb. 14, Buttigieg referenced a Trump-era decision to repeal a 2015 regulation on the use of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes on certain types of trains. Some of Buttigieg’s Twitter followers interpreted his comments as a suggestion that the East Palestine derailment could have been avoided had it not been for the Trump administration’s decision.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy, a Biden appointee, subsequently said the rule would not have applied to the type of train that derailed in East Palestine. A spokesperson for Buttigieg said his tweets on the Trump-era regulatory decision were simply misinterpreted.

Multiple media fact-checkers have also dispelled claims that any specific Trump-era deregulations contributed to the East Palestine derailment.

While Buttigieg’s office has insisted his comments about Trump-era regulations have been misinterpreted as regards their casting blame on Trump, Buttigieg has continued to insinuate a connection between Trump’s regulatory actions and the East Palestine incident.

Last week, Buttigieg appeared for an interview with MSNBC host Joy Reid, during which Reid criticized Trump’s visit to East Palestine and asked Buttigieg, “What do you make of the fact that he [Trump] went there despite the fact that the regulations that he rolled back were partly responsible for this tragedy?”

Buttigieg did not refute the premise of Reid’s question, but instead replied, “It was definitely an ironic thing to do. You take down regulations, you water down regulations, you weaken the power of the administration to deal with freight railroad companies, and then you show up wanting to be a great friend of the people who have been impacted by a rail disaster.”

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