Calls for Buttigieg's resignation grow among lawmakers, as Ohio Republican hints at impeachment
"I hope he does resign, and if he doesn't, you know, there's a long list of impeachment criteria," said Ohio Republican Rep. Warren Davidson.
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More GOP lawmakers are calling for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to resign, with a House Republican from Ohio suggesting the GOP-led chamber should proceed with impeachment if he doesn't step down.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote to President Biden about Buttigieg's job performance in light of the Feb. 3 toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. He argued that Buttigieg has been absent on the job and it's become a pattern.
"Amidst an impending possible rail strike last year, Secretary Buttigieg left the country to vacation in Portuguese wine country," Rubio wrote. "Near misses in commercial aviation, as well as recent system failures, including the one that shutdown air travel in Florida in January, indicate that serious and persistent problems across the DOT are not being sufficiently remedied. I do not have confidence that Secretary Buttigieg is capable of keeping the American people safe."
Buttigieg told reporters on Monday he plans to visit East Palestine when the time is right.
Buttigieg also addressed Rubio's letter to Biden.
"I can't help but notice the last time this agency heard from him on rail regulation was his signature being on a letter that was pretty obviously drafted by industry, calling on us to weaken our practices around track inspection," he said.
On Tuesday, Rubio responded to Buttigieg's criticism.
"First [Buttigieg] was m.i.a. on the derailment," he said. "Then he lies to media claiming my 2021 letter calling for more track inspections was a letter calling for deregulation. He is an incompetent who is focused solely on his fantasies about his political future & needs to be fired."
Rubio isn't the only lawmaker calling on Buttigieg to resign.
"His negligent mishandling of numerous transportation disasters and alleged misuse of government resources deem him unfit," said Tennessee GOP Rep. John Rose.
At the state level in Ohio, lawmakers, including GOP state Rep. Michael Rulli, want Buttigieg to resign too.
"The people in East Palestine had their water, air, and soil poisoned," he wrote on Twitter. "Pete Buttigieg's only response was to spin and say it wasn't a big deal. He's not doing his job. He needs to resign. Now."
Some Democratic lawmakers are also seeking answers from Buttigieg.
"We need Congressional inquiry and direct action from Secretary Buttigieg to address this tragedy," Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter.
Ohio Republican Rep. Warren Davidson went further and said that the House should proceed with impeachment if Buttigieg doesn't depart voluntarily.
"I hope he does resign, and if he doesn't, you know, there's a long list of impeachment criteria," Davidson said in an interview on "Stinchfield Tonight" on Real America's Voice. "I never would have thought we'd see a point where we need to impeach a secretary of transportation, but daggone, how many failures have to happen on his watch before we call it?"
Buttigieg has referred to his delay in addressing the Ohio train accident as a "lesson learned."
He called for changes to rail safety regulations as news of another train derailment in Gothenburg, Neb. spread on Tuesday morning.