The White House refused to confirm whether President Joe Biden is planning or discussing traveling to East Palestine, Ohio, arguing he’s “taking it very seriously” from afar.
White House correspondents pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday about Biden’s lack of announced plans to visit the city of East Palestine. Residents are facing concerns after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed Feb. 3, and are calling for Biden to make the trip.
“The president is certainly staying updated on what’s occurring on the ground, but also appreciative of the work that his multi agencies have been doing over the past several weeks,” Jean-Pierre responded, dodging why Biden has specifically decided not to visit thus far. (RELATED: ‘Bad Faith Attacks’: White House Defends Buttigieg, Casts Blame On Republicans And Trump For East Palestine)
Jean-Pierre repeatedly highlighted that other federal agencies have been on the ground and that it’s been “all hands on deck” because of Biden.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited the Ohio city Thursday, 20 days after the incident occurred. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have deployed officials on the ground, Jean-Pierre said.
NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Jean-Pierre if there are any “discussions” about Biden going to East Palestine.
“I think what folks should understand, and folks should I think feel at ease is that the president has taken this very seriously,” Jean-Pierre said, reiterating the points about the EPA being on the ground and the multi-agency approach.
“The president frequently visits the sites of many natural and man-made disasters… I’m just struggling to understand why the president wouldn’t go to East Palestine. Does it simply not meet the bar for a presidential visit?” CNN’s Jeremy Diamond asked Jean-Pierre.
“There’s no reason to struggle, I don’t think, on this question. I think when you look at the federal agencies have responded from day one and took this very seriously,” Jean-Pierre said, noting the EPA is the organization responsible for responding to chemical spills.
“I don’t have anything to share on a presidential visit,” she added. “But it does matter that the president put forth a multi-agency reaction… showing up means having” the EPA on the ground.