Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Thursday tore into Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for waiting nearly two weeks before addressing the toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio, and openly wondered how the embattled secretary is still in his job.
'Pete Buttigieg — what the hell does this guy gotta do to get fired?' Cruz asked at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference just outside Washington, D.C. 'At this point, it’s a bar game... like, what else could he do?'
Buttigieg waited 10 days before talking about the train derailment that led to the chemical spill, and that’s just one of several black marks on his performance as a cabinet secretary in the Biden administration. Buttigieg has been criticized for on over-reliance on expensive private air travel, even as he watched airlines cancel thousands of flights in 2022, in part because of a system failure at the Federal Aviation Administration late last year.
Buttigieg has also come under criticism for making arguments that the federal highway system is racist, while coming close a few times to a rail strike that could have crippled the economy.
Cruz said that Buttigieg’s late and tepid response to the environmental disaster is a sign that he and the entire Biden administration aren’t interested in helping people who live in predominantly conservative districts.
'The Democrats don’t give a damn about East Palestine, because it’s a blue-collar, red place, and they’re like, 'To hell with you,'' Cruz charged. 'If you were a bunch of transgender tech workers, you’d have the entire Biden cabinet down there for a listening session and sit-in to feel their pain.'
Earlier this week, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General said it was opening an investigation into Buttigieg’s use of private jets for travel, which followed a Fox News Digital report that said he has taken at least 18 taxpayer-funded private flights since taking his job.
A department spokesman said that officials 'welcome this independent audit.'
On the CPAC stage Thursday, Cruz added that President Biden has been 'completely AWOL' on the derailment.
Cruz gave credit to Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, for sticking with the community and making videos showing evidence of chemicals spilling into waterways. He said that Vance, who shared a stage with him at the CPAC event on Thursday, has done a 'fantastic' job sticking up for his voters.
'But JD, alongside Donald Trump, came there and guilted the administration, and that was powerful as hell,' Cruz said.