President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday that he will go to East Palestine, Ohio, “at some point” – nearly a month after a train derailment and a controlled burn of chemicals devasted the community and surrounding areas.
His comments came after a lunch with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Senate Democrats, ABC News’s Alexandra Hutzler reported.
“I’ve spoken with every official in Ohio, Democrat and Republican, on a continuing basis, as in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I laid out a little bit in there what I think the answers are … and we will be implementing an awful lot to the legislation here.”
“I will be out there at some point,” he pledged without providing a specific timeline.
Biden has garnered substantial criticism for not yet visiting the town. It was only exacerbated by his trip to Ukraine last week, which had East Palestine Mayor Trent R. Conaway fuming.
“That tells you right now he doesn’t care about us,” he said during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s (FNC) Jesse Watters Primetime. “So, he can send every agency he wants to, but I found that out this morning in one of the briefings that he was in…Ukraine, giving millions of dollars away to people over there, and not to us, and I’m furious.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) defended Biden’s absence on Tuesday while speaking with reporters, as Breitbart News noted:
I don’t know if the President himself coming particularly matters, but I do know that his focus, I’ve talked to him. He called me from Warsaw to talk about what are we not doing that we need to do. I talked to his staff more than to him, but the staff or him twice three times a week, holding their feet to the fire and making sure they’re doing what they should be doing. So, whether he comes here or not is not, I don’t think, is a particularly big deal. Whether we are, his focus is on here and will continue to be.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) expressed the opposite sentiment Thursday while appearing on FNC’s Fox and Friends.
“There’s no doubt about it. The president needs to come,” DeWine said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had made a visit on February 23, though it came 20 days after the initial derailment and 17 days after the “controlled” burn of vinyl chloride.
Former President Donald Trump brought truckloads of water to East Palestine and purchased food for everyone inside a McDonald’s in the town a day earlier, as Breitbart News’s Alana Mastrangelo documented.
Alana Mastrangelo / Breitbart News
“We as a community would like to thank President Trump for coming up here and shedding some light on the situation we are currently in,” Conaway said.