Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a congressional hearing Wednesday for his response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment last month in East Palestine, Ohio.
Cruz said a "delayed and disjointed response by the Biden administration" has not helped the local residents' worries about the health and environmental threats stemming from the controlled burn from the toxic chemicals that fell out of the train cars.
"It took Secretary Buttigieg 10 days to even acknowledge the derailment. After he was called out, he did a 180 and tried to sell a slew of big government regulatory proposals, desperate to disguise the failure of the administration to act sooner," Cruz said.
Cruz cited Buttigieg's mentioning of a withdrawn rule on brakes as an example of why the Transportation Department faced "constraints." However, Cruz noted that the Biden administration's own chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Jennifer Homendy, explained that the cited brake rule would not have prevented the derailment.
"Undeterred, Secretary Buttigieg then released a laundry list of regulatory proposals, many of which had little to no connection to the East Palestine derailment. In an effort to further distract from his own failed response, Secretary Buttigieg has suggested that [former] President [Donald] Trump was responsible for the derailment in East Palestine. I know that's a frequent playbook of this administration, blaming every problem on President Trump; but not even the Washington Post fact-checker who usually goes out of his way to back Democrat claims bought this claim," Cruz stated, citing the Washington Post piece debunking the notion that deregulation caused the derailment.
Cruz then turned to two of the witnesses, Ohio Sens. J.D. Vance and Sherrod Brown, a Republican and Democrat, respectively, and lauded their efforts to bring attention to helping the affected local residents, saying, "I look forward to continuing to work closely with both of you and with the chairwoman on a bipartisan, serious rail safety package."
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