President Joe Biden has spent recent weeks traveling the country and going abroad, but has not yet visited East Palestine, Ohio, two weeks after saying he would go “at some point.”
Local residents and state officials told the Daily Caller that Biden’s lack of an on-the-ground response constitutes a “disaster” and a “fail” for the president, who vowed to travel to the town on March 2 — nearly a month after a nearby train derailment caused toxic chemicals to spill into the atmosphere.
Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who traveled to a toxic waste site in East Palestine on Monday, criticized the president for rushing to bail out the banks instead of visiting the town “exposed to hazardous materials.”
“Biden himself has either been preoccupied with traveling to Ukraine or bank bailouts for Silicon Valley. It all amounts to a masterclass in government incompetence. Joe Biden has failed this test and the people of East Palestine are suffering the consequences,” Vance told the Caller.
Since March 2, Biden has flown to Alabama, Pennsylvania, California and Nevada for various events to promote his administration’s work on gun control, Social Security and Medicare, pharmaceuticals and “voting rights.” He has also attended two Democratic National Committee (DNC) dinners during his travels and has flown to Delaware over the weekends to spend time in his personal residence.
The White House refused to tell the Daily Caller whether the president has officially put East Palestine on his travel agenda. When pressed on Biden’s absence, his administration pointed to the response of various federal agencies that have travelled to the site of the incident.
On Monday, Biden woke up earlier than usual to give a public announcement about bailing out Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, touting his administration’s “swift action.” His administration took 10 days to comment on the East Palestine disaster.
Some East Palestine residents expressed their frustration with Biden’s choices to travel across the country and bail out banks instead of paying a visit to one of the biggest environmental disasters of his administration.
DJ Yokley, a business owner in East Palestine, told the Caller that he thinks “it’s unfortunate for the American citizens to watch a leader of the free world, and someone that was elected to a job, fail from a leadership perspective.”
Biden’s Monday bank bailout “puts perspective on the urgency that we have here in East Palestine. There was no urgency. There was no urgency for anybody to get here and represent that until [Trump] came through and drew light to our situation,” Yokley added. (RELATED: ‘Not Forgotten’: Ohioans Praise Trump For Visiting Their Town After Toxic Train Derailment, Rip Biden’s Ukraine Trip)
Chris Sigler, a concerned resident of East Palestine, told the Caller that locals are “absolutely” still concerned, due to the “lack of communication,” as federal agencies find it “hard to relocate the soil across the country.”
Vance also commented on the “failure” of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get the toxic waste out of the area.
“The EPA has completely failed to get toxic waste out of town and into the proper containment facilities, leaving residents continuously exposed to hazardous materials,” Vance said.
On the banks, Sigler said he’s not “surprised” about the attention the president gave to the failures.
“I’m not surprised by that at this point. Being this far removed from the accident, anything of that nature I’m not surprised. It took roughly 10-11 days for the administration — Biden or Pete Buttigieg — to acknowledge publicly when this happened. So any day, any announcement other than in our attention does not surprise me moving forward,” Sigler said.
If Biden does visit at this point, Sigler said it would be a “great” look for the president, but wondered if it would “make a difference at this point,” givenm “we’re approaching six weeks from the initial accident.”
Dan Elzer, a resident of East Palestine and businessman, argued that it would “help” for Biden to visit, at least as far as the “perception” of the community being safe and keeping the town in the news.
“This is a really tough community. For the most part, the residents have gone back to work … Obviously everyone is concerned about the long-term effects of what’s happening, but all the reports we’re getting short-term show that everything’s ok,” Elzer said.
Republican Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents the Congressional district including East Palestine, also called for Biden to make the trip.
“Congressman Johnson believes the President should have visited already, and believes he would have done so had the crash occurred in a big urban area like New York City or San Francisco rather than rural Appalachia. Congressman Johnson has not heard any official word if the President will make time to visit East Palestine as part of his travels across the country,” Johnson’s Communications Director, Benjamin Keeler, said.