In a recent appearance before the House Appropriations Committee discussing budget proposals for the next fiscal year for the federal Department of Transportation, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has been a frequent target of political attacks while serving in a role many might not expect to be so hotly contested, destroyed Republican talking points.
Specifically, he comprehensively rebutted the argument that the Biden administration is somehow ignoring real issues reflected in situations like train derailments and airline delays. GOP arguments can get extreme — and ridiculous, not reflecting reality.
“Thanks to the president’s leadership and the work of this Congress, we have unprecedented resources to modernize our infrastructure,” Buttigieg observed to the committee members. “Every week, shovels are hitting the ground across our country… We’re continuing to get funding to communities as swiftly as we responsibly can.”
Throughout his remarks, he cited nationwide examples, including work on bridges and long stretches of roadways and federal support for expansions to public transit in areas like Arizona and Illinois. That kind of local infrastructure can connect entire communities with the resources they critically need for personal and economic development, improving their lives and areas. Buttigieg also referenced the proposed rule demanding a minimum of two crew members per train, an idea he’s already discussed following the hazardous train derailment in the area of the community of East Palestine, Ohio.
“Derailments are down compared to decades past, but it is unacceptable that we still see roughly three per day in the United States,” Buttigieg said. “That’s why the president’s budget includes $273 million to support FRA safety personnel and expand our inspection capabilities. I’ve been heartened by the recent surge of bipartisan support for rail safety, and we are eager to work with anyone who is serious about this subject. That’s why we strongly support the Railway Safety Act and hope that all of those leaders who have spoken out on this issue will join us in supporting that work.”
The proposed piece of legislation he referenced would accomplish what have already been touted as key aims, including through enacting a dramatic expansion of the level of fines available to impose on railway companies involved in wrecks. The bill, as proposed in the Senate and summarized in a statement from President Joe Biden himself, would also speed the implementation of updated tank cars, among other aims. Buttigieg has emphasized the Congressional role in responding to dangerous situations like the East Palestine derailment. Check out his comments below: