President Joe Biden called elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday to address the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
In social media posts on Tuesday, Biden said he spoke by phone with Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro., Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). Biden called those officials from Poland and continued his visit to the eastern European country on Wednesday.
“I reaffirmed my commitment to making sure they have everything they need,” Biden said of the calls.
The president also noted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had ordered the train company involved in the derailment accident, Norfolk Southern Corporation, to pay for all necessary contamination cleanup associated with the accident.
Biden further noted that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) team had also been deployed to the accident site. That comes after DeWine’s office said it had reached out to FEMA for assistance but said the agency had told him Ohio is “not eligible for assistance at this time.”
Criticisms of Biden Admin Response
The Biden administration has faced criticism for the speed at which it has responded to the train derailment incident.
On Monday, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway called Biden’s decision to make a surprise visit to Ukraine “the biggest slap in the face” and said, “that tells you right now he doesn’t care about us.” Conaway subsequently said he stands by his comments, but said Biden is “welcome to come if he wants to come.”
Biden announced his calls with the various elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania three days after former President Donald Trump announced plans to visit the disaster area in East Palestine. Trump arrived in Ohio on Wednesday, the day after Biden announced his calls.
On Tuesday night, a Daily Caller reporter asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to specify if he would visit East Palestine. Buttigieg said he would make the visit, but specifically declined to say when he would visit. Buttigieg’s office eventually announced he would visit the disaster site on Thursday.
By Ryan Morgan