During an interview on CNN, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed still more of the petulant criticism from Republicans that’s emerged in the aftermath of the recent derailment of a train in Ohio that was carrying potentially hazardous chemicals.
Although federal personnel quickly responded to the scene and began carrying out extensive response efforts, like testing the air inside hundreds of local residences, Republicans have leaped at the opportunity to use what happened in Ohio as a political cudgel. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even called for Buttigieg to exit his post, although Rubio himself previously joined those supporting the idea of using automated data collection in place of some visual inspections of train tracks, despite the unique benefits no doubt associated with people actually looking at the infrastructure. Elsewhere, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee pushed Buttigieg for materials on the response to the wreck by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)… which isn’t part of the Department of Transportation.
Among those Republicans were prominent names like Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert. This time, Buttigieg was speaking on CNN about recent complaints from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who remains leader of the Republicans in the Senate. McConnell moped about Buttigieg supposedly overly focusing on so-called woke initiatives, whatever that even means. Those upset about things they call “woke” often seem to use the phrasing more than those they’re accusing of adherence to the idea.
“Well, first of all, Leader McConnell was there celebrating the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge, a major infrastructure project that we are funding in his state,” Buttigieg observed this week on CNN. “I would not call the Brent Spence Bridge a ‘woke initiative.’ As for climate, climate is not nonsense. Dealing with climate change is one of the biggest things that people like me and people like him will be remembered for after we’re gone. And third, he is the caucus leader in the Senate. He could be a partner to us right now in making sure that there are fewer rail disasters in the future.”
Buttigieg has also already helped promote policy proposals like rules expanding staffing on trains and increasing the fines federal authorities are allowed to impose on railway companies. A recent release from his department also pushed the idea of Congress speeding up the implementation of updated tank cars for hazardous materials. On the flip side, Republicans like Trump himself have often promoted the idea of deregulation, and it was once he took office a rule for updated brakes on certain trains was officially done away with. Check out Buttigieg’s comments below:
Pete Buttigieg on Mitch McConnell's criticisms: "First of all, Leader McConnell was there celebrating the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge, a major infrastructure project that we are funding in his state. I would not call the Brent Spence Bridge a 'woke initiative.'" pic.twitter.com/FFfe5JRYCz
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2023