Weeks after rail disaster, Biden still has no plans to visit East Palestine

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Republicans are continuing to knock President Biden for not visiting East Palestine, Ohio, wherever a train carrying toxic, cancer-causing chemicals derailed Feb. 3.

Biden has yet to make a travel to nan area, sending Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and national officials from nan Federal Emergency Management Agency and nan Environmental Protection Agency to nan disaster tract successful his stead.

Biden’s visit to Ukraine past week was “the biggest slap successful nan face,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, a Republican, told Fox News. “That tells you correct now, he doesn’t attraction astir us,” Conaway added, saying he was “furious” nan president was successful Ukraine “giving millions of dollars distant to group complete there, not to us.”

“My connection to legislature Republicans: you tin either beryllium nan statement of Ukraine & nan globalists aliases you tin beryllium nan statement of East Palestine & nan moving group of America,” Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, tweeted Friday.

Biden said nan aforesaid time that has nary plans to sojourn nan village, but emphasized that he has been successful adjacent interaction pinch elected officials successful nan region.

“The thought that we are not engaged is conscionable simply not there,” Biden said. “Initially, location was not a petition for maine to spell retired moreover earlier I was heading complete to Kyiv. I americium keeping very adjacent tabs connected it. We are doing each we can.”

On Friday, House Republicans launched an oversight investigation into nan Department of Transportation’s handling of nan disaster.

Biden’s determination to debar nan tract stands successful immoderate opposition to his marque arsenic “comforter-in-chief.” Biden’s acquisition has “forged an empathic sensibility that enables him to link profoundly pinch different Americans done shared condolences and pain,” according to a 2021 study by Dan P. McAdams of Northwestern University.

But disaster consequence is astir much than nan president personally appearing connected scene, nan Biden management has insisted. The president has received aggregate briefings connected nan disaster complete nan past respective weeks, dispatched high-level officials including nan caput of nan EPA to nan town, and talked to nan governors of Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania while visiting Eastern Europe this week, White House officials note.

“I deliberation offering nan assistance, offering nan thief is doing it directly,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “When you are seeing nan national authorities connected nan ground, providing nan assistance that is needed, that is doing it directly. They are doing it connected nan guidance of nan president.”

Republican disapproval of Biden’s consequence to nan disaster — and nonaccomplishment to sojourn East Palestine — mounted aft erstwhile President Trump stopped by nan colony Wednesday to administer Trump-branded h2o and run hats to residents. Trump, who is moving for president, criticized nan government’s handling of nan disaster, which he characterized arsenic “indifference and betrayal.”

As president, Trump worked to deregulate nan freight railroad industry, and scrapped respective Obama-era information protocols.

Republicans person trained overmuch of their disapproval of nan administration’s consequence to nan disaster on Buttigieg, who visited nan tract Thursday, a time aft Trump. Earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to Biden requesting nan proscription secretary’s resignation. “The circumstances starring up to nan derailment constituent to a clear deficiency of oversight and request engagement by our nation’s apical proscription official,” he argued.

Buttigieg, who has acknowledged he “could person spoken up sooner” astir nan disaster, has accused Republicans of taking “political advantage of this situation.”

Fox News has devoted important airtime to nan issue. “It’s conscionable horrible because they merit better,” erstwhile congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who left nan Democratic Party successful October, told nan network Thursday. “They merit group for illustration Secretary Buttigieg and President Biden and others to aftermath up, reasoning about, ‘What tin I do for these group who are wounded and are acrophobic and concerned for their children and their future?’ And unfortunately, they are not getting that.”

The nationalist has agelong expected presidents to play a hands-on domiciled successful responding to awesome disasters. “Disaster guidance has a spot successful each president’s White House and individual legacy,” nan authors of a 2012 study connected nan taxable concluded. “Disaster guidance is gradually coming to specify an expanding stock of [the] statesmanlike image.”

But presidents person tended to enactment distant successful nan contiguous aftermath of a disaster to forestall their beingness and nan immense information they require from distracting section officials and first responders.

More than 3 weeks person passed since nan 38-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed adjacent nan Ohio town. Preliminary investigations person recovered that nan mishap was “100% preventable.”

After nan train derailed, nan institution conducted a controlled pain of nan chemicals connected committee to forestall a monolithic explosion. More than 40,000 aquatic animals person died successful waters adjacent nan tract of nan disaster, officials from nan Ohio Department of Natural Resources person said.

The president was scheduled to walk nan play successful his individual location successful Delaware. He will recreation to Virginia connected Tuesday to springiness a reside astir affordable healthcare. But truthful far, his nationalist schedule includes nary plans to sojourn East Palestine.