Florida Senators and Pete Buttigieg Trade Blows Over Ohio Disaster

Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio traded blows with Biden Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday, criticizing him for his handling of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.


However, Rubio fired the opening shot last Thursday with a letter to the President calling for Buttigieg to resign immediately. The letter summarizes the damage, describing how the derailment led to “The release of vinyl chloride and other chemicals into the air and ground surrounding East Palestine, Ohio raises serious environmental concerns and has long-term implications for the town and those living in the region..”

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Rubio also argued that the damage was Butigieg’s fault and part of a larger pattern, claiming, “The circumstances leading up to the derailment point to a clear lack of oversight and demand engagement by our nation’s top transportation official.”

“Unfortunately, this is part of a two-year long pattern. During historic maritime and surface transportation disruptions in 2021, Secretary Buttigieg was completely absent. 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.”

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Rubio fired back on Monday, according to HuffPost, accusing Rubio of being involved in weakening safety regulations.


“I can’t help but notice the last time this agency heard from him on rail regulation was his signature being on a letter that was pretty obviously drafted by industry, calling on us to weaken our practices around track inspection.”

The dispute exploded onto Twitter on Tuesday. Rubio called the characterization of the letter a “lie.”
“First @SecretaryPete was m.i.a. on the derailment. Then he lies to media claiming my 2021 letter calling for more track inspections was a letter calling for deregulation. He is an incompetent who is focused solely on his fantasies about his political future & needs to be fired.”

Buttigieg quote tweeted Rubio, implying that the letter was inaccurate by claiming lobbyists wrote it.
“The facts don’t lie. The 2021 letter you signed was obviously drafted by railroad industry lobbyists. It supports waivers that would reduce visual track inspections. Now: will you vote to help us toughen rail safety accountability and fines, or not?”

The letter in question approves waivers for in-person inspection if rail companies utilize computer-automated inspections instead, which, according to the letter, have a track record of success.

Rubio punched back a final time, citing Buttigieg’s absence history, specifically regarding the recent railroad strike.
“Before you emerged from hiding 10 days after the worst rail accident in over a decade the last time we heard you talking about rail was when you were lobbying for the rail company “deal” that screwed workers out of paid leave while I was fighting for workers Please resign now”

Florida Senator Rick Scott took a shot at Buttigieg as well, tweeting at the Secretary that he should stop waiting for the right moment to visit East Palestine because the right moment is ‘now.’

“Hey,@SecretaryPete: the right time for folks in East Palestine is now. When leaders show up, things get done—enough with the excuses. Show up, do your job and stop playing politics with every crisis you find.”

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