Attention: This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual.
(19FortyFive) Following the train derailment in Ohio last month, there was something of a groundswell among some Republicans calling for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to resign. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was among those calling for that, while a group of House Republicans introduced a resolution, later withdrawn, calling for Buttigieg to step down. The GOP’s official Twitter account, earlier this week, tweeted that “Pete Buttigieg should resign.”
“Whether it’s waiting weeks to visit East Palestine, vacationing in Portuguese wine country during vital union negotiations, his extended absence during one of the largest shipping crises we’ve faced, or his failure to prevent massive aviation groundings, Secretary Buttigieg has shown an inability to carry out the duties of his office,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) said in a Fox News interview last week.
Now, another Republican has called, on the House floor, for Buttigieg to step down.
“Pete Buttigieg has shown that he is unfit to lead the Department of Transportation and must resign immediately,” Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) said in a floor speech Wednesday. Collins had been one of the sponsors of the legislation calling on Buttigieg to resign.
“From his first day in office, he has been more focused on diversity training and identity politics than on building and maintaining America’s transportation system,” Collins added. “He has abandoned his department’s mission of improving the safety, technology, and efficiency of our infrastructure in favor of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”
“His policies have continuously put the wokes before the folks, and we are again seeing the consequences,” Collins said. He went on to wonder whether Norfolk Southern had been so distracted by complying with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts that it contributed to the derailment; there is little to no evidence that one had anything to do with the other.
It’s not clear if the Department of Transportation has devoted any more energy to such diversity efforts than a typical cabinet department has.
A reference in his speech to Buttigieg going on television and “TV whining about too many white people in construction industries” was actually about Buttigieg giving a speech about the extensive history of non-white people being kept out of construction jobs.
Buttigieg has pushed back against calls for his resignation.
“There’s always going to be a lot of politics in this town, and I’m used to that but this is a ‘put up or shut up’ moment where anyone who wants to throw stones for political reasons, especially if they’re a lawmaker with actual congressional power to help solve the problem, ought to work with us on that,” Buttigieg told Sinclair’s The National Desk in an interview published this week.
He added that he has no intention of stepping down from his position.
“No, I serve at the pleasure of the president and I’m proud to be doing this work. I’m proud of the work we’ve done already to make railroads safer and the work that we’re going to do to raise the bar even further,” he said.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, ran for president in 2020 and won the Iowa caucuses before dropping out to endorse President Biden.
He was nominated and confirmed as Transportation Secretary, becoming the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the Senate.
Secretary of Transportation is not typically a position that’s much in the public eye, and Transportation Secretaries rarely graduate to higher office. But Pete Buttigieg has been the exception, often in the crosshairs of political opponents of the administration.
Fox News reported in February that the Inspector General’s office in the Treasury Department is looking into Buttigieg’s use of private jets.
As of last year, the Transportation Secretary had used private jets 18 times in his first two years in office.
Reporting from 19FortyFive.