(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden is facing backlash for not visiting East Palestine, Ohio, after the toxic train derailment devastated the community. As health and safety concerns persist among residents, the White House insists they are on top of the situation.
Former President Donald Trump accused Biden of indifference speaking in East Palestine on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, as you know, in too many cases your goodness and perseverance were met with indifference and betrayal in some cases,” Trump said. “And Biden and FEMA said they would not send aid to East Palestine under any circumstance.”
The White House reported Biden held a phone call late last night with top elected officials from the area, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Michael Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
As Biden heads back to Washington from Poland, many will be wondering whether he will make a trip to East Palestine.
In the 19 days since the devastating train derailment caused major chemical spills in Ohio, Biden has visited four states on White House duties and two more for personal travel. He also made a surprise appearance in Ukraine before his planned visit to Poland.
This comes in contrast to Trump, who called Biden’s absence from East Palestine “terrible.”
White House spokesperson responded to Trump’s visit, saying, “Congressional Republicans and former Trump administration officials owe East Palestine an apology for selling them out to rail industry lobbyists, when they dismantled the Obama-Biden rail safety protections as well as EPA powers to rapidly contain spills.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has also faced scrutiny for not being on the ground at East Palestine, but is scheduled to visit Thursday.
“As the secretary said, he would go when it’s appropriate and wouldn’t detract from the emergency response efforts. The secretary is going now that the EPA has said it’s moving out of the emergency response phase and transitioning to the long-term remediation phase,” said a Department of Transportation spokesperson Wednesday.
Republican Congressman Bill Johnson, representing the area, said about Buttigieg’s visit, “It is way late in the game.”