Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) has been on a tear about embattled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is facing mounting backlash over recent railroad and airline disasters.
Budd, a licensed pilot and member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said Tuesday in a statement to Breitbart News the transportation secretary has been “asleep at the switch” and laid out several recent controversies that he said Buttigieg has seemed “unprepared to handle.”
The number one priority at the U.S. Department of Transportation is to look out for the safety of the traveling public. Unfortunately, on this issue, Secretary Buttigieg has been asleep at the switch. Our country has faced numerous transportation safety challenges in just the recent months that he appears completely unprepared to handle, including the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, five near misses at U.S. airports, the Southwest debacle at Christmas, and the first nationwide ground stoppage since 9/11.
Budd added the “American people deserve better” and that if Buttigieg had “performed this badly in a corporate setting, the board would have fired him by now.”
The comment marks the latest in a string of criticisms Budd has made about Buttigieg, who was thrust into the spotlight in February after the toxic train derailment in Ohio left a village reeling over long-term health implications of the incident.
Buttigieg “acknowledged mistakes” he made with the Ohio trainwreck in an interview with CNN this past weekend.
The outlet reported:
[Buttigieg] said he should have gone to East Palestine, Ohio, earlier. He said he failed to anticipate the political fallout from the toxic train derailment, despite months of transportation problems like mass flight cancellations and an air traffic control system shutdown that left many Americans frustrated.
Budd also expressed grievances about Buttigieg during recent appearances on Fox News and Just the News, where he denounced Buttigieg’s handling of, not just the catastrophic Ohio wreck, but also the recent “near misses, near fatalities on runways.”
Budd told Fox News that Buttigieg, a former presidential candidate who has been floated as possibly running for president again, is “campaigning for another job.”
“He’s clearly using [his job] as a platform for something else,” Budd said.
Our country is facing massive transportation safety challenges and Secretary Buttigieg has been asleep at the switch.
— Senator Ted Budd (@SenTedBuddNC) March 2, 2023
Buttigieg is a former Indiana mayor whom the Biden administration has boasted is the “first openly gay Cabinet Secretary confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”
Republicans have, however, repeatedly raised concerns about Buttigieg’s limited experience in the transportation field. They intensified their criticisms in December when Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights over the holidays and in January when the Federal Aviation Administration made the exceedingly rare move to briefly ground all flights nationwide because of a system outage.
While Buttigieg has mostly been a target for Republicans, the Ohio derailment led moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) to chime in on the scrutiny and formally demand the transportation secretary address unanswered questions about the incident.