House GOP Probing Response to East Palestine Derailment

    House GOP Probing Response to East Palestine Derailment
    Last updated Feb 27, 2023
    Image credit: AP


    • Multiple Republican-led US House committees have started, or are planning to start, probes into the Biden administration's response to the Feb. 3 toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
    • Last Friday, House Oversight and Accountability chair James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg requesting the preservation of documents the committee would like to see.
    • The Energy and Commerce Committee has also requested testimony from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is considering a probe, and GOP representatives are thinking about holding a field hearing in East Palestine.
    • Republicans are requesting Department of Transportation (DOT) documents dating to Jan. 20, 2021, related to any of the department’s changes to train policy, its investigation into what caused the derailment, and the handling of hazardous materials at the site.
    • Buttigieg visited East Palestine last week, but Republicans are interested in finding out why it took him 10 days to do so. Buttigieg has acknowledged his delay, saying that he "felt strongly about this and could have expressed that sooner."
    • Biden said last week he doesn’t plan to visit East Palestine but told reporters he’s "keeping very close tabs" on the aftermath of the derailment. Former Pres. Trump and Senator JD Vance (R-Ohio), among other Republicans, have both visited the town.


    Republican narrative

    If Buttigieg, who apathetically took nearly three weeks to visit East Palestine, isn’t going to provide full transparency to Congress and the American people, then the House will compel him to testify and investigate the totality of the federal response to this disaster. While Democrats wrongly blame former Pres. Trump for this tragedy, Republicans are going to provide answers for the citizens who potentially face long-term health issues from the derailment.

    Democratic narrative

    Republicans are faking their concerns about what transpired in East Palestine in order to take shots at Democrats. But criticism of federal officials like Buttigieg is off target considering his department, by law, doesn’t have direct authority over the response. Stricter government regulation, and stronger environmental policy — two things the GOP shies away from — would’ve gone a long way toward preventing this tragedy, and could still work to stop future wrecks if Republicans would get on board. But don’t count on it as long as they’re under the railroad lobby’s influence.

    Cynical narrative

    Both Republicans and Democrats have rushed to play the blame game — including pointing fingers at Trump, Biden, Buttigieg, the railroad industry, and lobbyists. But it’s time to focus on the citizens of East Palestine, who are being negatively impacted and need answers and help, not to be part of some political game.

    Political split



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