Biden Declines East Palestine Visit

President Joe Biden will not visit the site of the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The crash and release of dangerous chemicals sparked major concerns about potential danger and heavy criticism of the Biden administration’s response since.

The president’s decision will likely be the spark of new criticism of his administration’s approach to the crash. The release of carcinogenic dioxins caused tens of thousands of animal deaths near the site.

Many of the remaining chemicals were burned to prevent further release, which former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (I-HI) compared to burn pits that caused severe health concerns during the Iraq War.

The president was asked about a potential visit this week and responded regarding doing a Zoom call with local residents.

The president continued with an anecdote about an old song. He did not cite any plan to visit the site of the Ohio disaster afterward.

The president said in part, “At this moment not. I was, I did a whole video, I mean, uh, you know, the uh, what the Hell? On Zoom. All I can hear every time I think of Zoom is that song of my generation, ‘Who’s Zoomin’ Who?’

President Biden’s decision not to visit the affected area contrasted sharply with his predecessor. Former President Donald Trump visited East Palestine on Wednesday, distributing needed water and cleaning supplies to residents.

President Trump’s visit received considerable attention, occurring right after President Biden traveled to Ukraine to express support for that country in its war against Russia. The president also announced a new aid package to Ukraine during his visit.

The president’s decision follows significant criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In particular, critics cite the nearly two-week delay for a substantial response from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation.

The White House attempted to push back against negative feedback this week, attempting to shift the blame to a Trump administration rule change regarding train brakes. However, the rule change did not impact the cause of the derailment and prompted local residents to call such allegations “absurd.”