‘It Is Political For Him’: White House Insists Biden Will Visit East Palestine, But Residents Are Still Waiting

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Will Kessler Contributor
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President Joe Biden has yet to visit the Ohio site where a train spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals, with the White House insisting he still intends to tour the community, leaving some residents to wonder if his avoidance is a political move, according to The New York Times.

A Norfolk Southern train derailed on Fed. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in a 49-railcar pileup, 11 of which were carrying hazardous chemicals that spilled into the surrounding area. Biden told reporters in March following the incident that he would visit the site at some point in the future, with the White House recently making a statement to the NYT that the president still plans to go, but nearly 11 months later he has not visited East Palestine, according to the NYT. (RELATED: US Sanctions Firms Funding Iranian-Backed Houthi Attacks In Red Sea)

“The president continues to oversee a robust recovery effort to support the people of East Palestine, and he will visit when it is most helpful for the community,” Jeremy Edwards, a White House spokesman, told the NYT.

East Palestine is situated in Columbiana County, which voted for former President Donald Trump by more than 70% in the 2020 presidential election, according to the NYT. The president’s failure to visit the site contrasts with his visit to Michigan in September to join the picket line with striking workers of the United Auto Workers union, leading Jessica Conrad, a resident of East Palestine, to say, “I feel like I don’t matter.”

“I believe that it is political for [Biden],” Krissy Ferguson, another resident of East Palestine who lives within a mile of the train derailment site, told the NYT. “I believe that if we were in a blue area, he would have come, and that hurts.”

In contrast to Biden, Trump visited the site in February, donating pallets of water and cleaning supplies to help residents of the area.

The White House confirmed again in September that Biden still planned to visit the site, announcing that same month an executive order providing more assistance to East Palestine, according to the NYT. The directive ordered federal agents to test the contamination levels of the surrounding area every 60 days, emphasized the need to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the crash and promised future aid if the rail company did not fully provide for the community’s needs.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the site three weeks after the crash to meet with local residents to hear frustrations about the poor disaster response after facing criticism for not visiting sooner. Buttigieg was also criticized for not making a public statement about the crash until ten days after the incident.

“Where do you go when your community is repeatedly ignored by the president of the United States?” Conrad told the NYT. “That’s where I want to go. I want to go where I feel like an American worth saving.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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