House Republicans want answers on the number of transportation meltdowns and catastrophes that have taken place on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s watch.
“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting oversight of the Department of Transportation following a series of aviation and rail safety failures. These failures indicate a recent and disturbing pattern of failures at the Department placing the safety of Americans at risk. Therefore, we request a briefing, documents, and communications related to the Department’s efforts to investigate and remediate these issues to protect the safety of all Americans,” Committee Chairman James Comer and the Republicans on the committee wrote in a letter to Buttigieg.
Pete Buttigieg Ignores OIG Warnings
The committee expressed concern that Buttigieg has ignored recommendations from the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General concerning transportation safety.
“Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data indicate that there were 1,730 runway incursions in all of 2022 while there have already been 1,539 this year as of July 24, 2023,” the letter said.
This request comes as United reported a systemwide failure.
“We are experiencing a systemwide technology issue and are holding all aircraft at their departure airports. Flights that are already airborne are continuing to their destination as planned,” United said in a statement on Tuesday before the issues were resolved hours later.
Since last fall, air traffic has been disrupted by the Southwest meltdown last December, and in January a systemwide disruption to the FAA’s Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) led to the grounding of flights.
A Transportation Department probe into the Southwest meltdown that led to the cancellation of 16,700 flights is ongoing.
Over the past two years, the U.S. experienced 13 major aviation-related accidents and approximately “approximately 1,310 derailments and 146 collisions.” The derailment in East Palestine, Ohio in February stands as a major example.
The members of the committee noted that the OIG recommendations had been ignored.
“Despite these incidents, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) has more than 86 new unresolved recommendations since President Biden took office,” the letter said. “It appears from the OIG’s catalogue of long overdue and unresolved recommendations that DOT’s leadership is not prioritizing Americans’ safety on air, land, and sea. These safety failures have eroded the public’s confidence in air and rail safety and necessitates thorough investigation.”
Comer gave the Transportation Department until September 19 to provide staff-level briefings on the matters being questioned.
Buttigieg Competence Questioned
Buttigieg’s competence has been questioned by members of both parties.
“This sector needs a more effective policeman on the beat. They need someone over at the Department of Transportation who is going to get the job done,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in February regarding the Southwest meltdown.
While many would disagree strongly, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed Buttigieg as a diversity hire who was not qualified.
“I think Buttigieg is a perfect example of the danger of setting up some kind of program that says we don’t care how competent you are. We care whether or not you fit some box we’ve created. He happened to be, I think, perfect for the Biden administration because he was the kind of person who represented, for the gay community, a unique appointment. The problem was he’s incompetent. It’s not a question about his sexual orientation. It’s a question about competence,” Gingrich told Fox News in March.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.