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Tipsheet

Rubio Says It's 'Painfully Clear' Buttigieg Needs to Resign in Fiery Letter to Biden

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Amid growing criticism for the Biden administration — and specifically Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg — over the federal response (or lack thereof) to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that released toxic chemicals into the air and water, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is calling for change at the top. 

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In a letter to President Joe Biden, Rubio calls on the chief executive to "request the immediate resignation of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Buttigieg" for what Rubio describes as a "gross level of incompetence and apathy that is detrimental to the safety and prosperity of the American people."

Rubio outlines how "Secretary Buttigieg downplayed and ignored crisis after crisis, while prioritizing topics of little relevance to our nation’s transportation system" over the first two years of the Biden administration's time in office. "It is painfully clear to the American people that Secretary Buttigieg has little regard for the duties of the Secretary of Transportation," Rubio added. 

"At no time has that been more apparent than the past two weeks," Rubio notes of the slow response to the train derailment. "Secretary Buttigieg refused to acknowledge the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, until his intentional ignorance was no longer tenable. Even after acknowledging the tragedy, he continues to deflect any accountability for the safety of our nation’s rail system," the Florida Republican says of the blame game being played by Buttigieg. "The circumstances leading up to the derailment point to a clear lack of oversight and demand engagement by our nation’s top transportation official," Rubio urges before noting the lack of attention from Buttigieg is nothing new:

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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.

Rubio also alludes to reporting related to documents alleging "abused taxpayer dollars by chartering private jets that are costlier than allowed in federal employee travel regulations, including for international travel" that have led to a familiar lack of accountability despite the fact that "[s]imilar instances in previous administrations have led to resignations." 

"Secretary Buttigieg is also alleged to have used government aircraft for travel that may be political in nature," Rubio's letter to Biden continues. "The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are not being abused for personal or political purposes by government officials, and that public officials are being held to the same standards regardless of their political affiliation."

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Rubio concludes by noting President Biden's broken promise about how his administration would be run, saying "the transparency and accountability that you promised to obsessively uphold during your inauguration has been nowhere to be found. The incompetence and failure within your administration cannot continue to be ignored when Americans’ health and safety are at risk," Rubio points out. "I hope you will change course in order to uphold your so-far-unmet promise to the American people by requesting the immediate resignation of Secretary Buttigieg."

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