During an interview on Fox News early this Friday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg criticized House Republicans over their policy demands helping drive the imminent threat of a federal government shutdown. Buttigieg pointed to how actually implementing some of the cuts that have emerged in ideas from the Republican side could set significantly backwards the efforts around the country to better shore up railway safety.
And Republicans themselves have tried incessantly to use railway problems as a partisan cudgel, particularly after a wreck in the area of East Palestine, Ohio, that sent dangerous substances into the environment. But their actions don’t match what you’d expect based purely on that rhetoric, the Transportation Secretary said. “The House Republican demands for budget cuts that they’re threatening a shutdown over include cutting railroad safety inspections,” Buttigieg explained.
There’s a piece of legislation on deck in Congress called the Railway Safety Act of 2023, and Buttigieg criticized Republicans for not showing more comprehensive support for that initiative but instead relying on Fox News hits. The legislation, if enacted, would raise the financial penalties that federal authorities can impose in the event of certain railway calamities and jump-start requirements for wayside defect detectors, which are “used by railway systems alongside the tracks to detect defects and failures,” the Congressional Research Service summarized.
“Some of the same Republican Congressmen who couldn’t wait to get on television to try to make a partisan issue out of the pain of the people in East Palestine are now not on the record supporting a railway safety act,” Buttigieg continued.
As the conversation progressed, Fox host Bill Hemmer claimed that “they at least went there,” referring to the Republicans whose partisan ambitions Buttigieg was challenging. The Transportation Secretary wasn’t impressed. “No, actually a lot of these people just went on Fox News,” he said. “They didn’t go to East Palestine like I did. They went on Fox News to try to use the people of East Palestine, and now we’re going to find out whether they’re serious.” Hemmer rattled off some names… including merely two Republicans. Two!
Check out the interview below: