Pete Buttigieg is facing his biggest test yet


Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

Please enter a valid email address.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has handled a number of transportation crises since assuming the role, is facing his biggest challenge yet with the deadly collapse of a major bridge in Baltimore.

Almost immediately after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Buttigieg was again thrust into the spotlight as he was forced to begin marshaling his agency’s resources to address the disaster. Buttigieg was soon on the phone with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and, shortly thereafter, on his way to the site to begin coordinating the federal response.

“The path to normalcy will not be easy, it will not be quick, it will not be inexpensive, but we will rebuild together,” Buttigieg told reporters on Tuesday, flanked by Moore, local officials and local lawmakers.

One day later, he called on both Democrats and Republicans to “stand together” to approve a funding package to aid the recovery and rebuilding operation. And on Thursday, Buttigieg announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) would immediately make $60 million in emergency federal funds available for the initial stages of that effort.

EX-MERCHANT MARINE CAPTAIN WARNS THERE IS ‘NO WAY OF CONTROLLING’ CARGO SHIP WITH MECHANICAL ERROR

Pete Buttigieg speaks to reporters

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a White House press briefing after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore this week. (Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz)

Since Buttigieg was first alerted to the accident, a DOT spokesperson said the secretary has since been “working around the clock” with federal, state and local officials, while also coordinating with shippers, truckers, port workers and port operators, all of whom have been impacted by what happened.

The quick response and actions taken by Buttigieg could ultimately lay the groundwork for a recovery effort that may take years, likely stretching past his tenure at the agency, according to former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who served during the Obama administration.

“No question about it: his biggest test yet, and he’s handled it with flying colors,” LaHood told Politico this week.

PHOTOS: MARYLAND’S FRANCIS SCOTT KEY BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Overall, the crisis presents a unique challenge, given the significance of the bridge and the nearby Port of Baltimore, which remains blocked as a result of the downed bridge. With the wreckage in the Patapsco River, it will halt the flow of ships in and out of the port indefinitely, disrupting the flow of commerce and putting a strain on supply chains. In addition to the 8,000 jobs associated with port activities that are threatened, up to $200 million worth of products come through the port every day.

Part of a span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge is suspended on the container ship Dali in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. U.S.

Part of a span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge is suspended over the container ship Dali in Baltimore on March 26. (Army Corps of Engineers/Handout via REUTERS)

In addition, according to the American Trucking Association, roughly 4,900 trucks traveled the bridge every day, carrying about $28 billion in goods on an annual basis.

As a result of the collapse, all vessel traffic and trucking traffic has been diverted, potentially straining other ports and infrastructure.

BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE SHUTTERS PORT INDEFINITELY, IMPACTING SUPPLY CHAIN

“The collapse of this critical piece of infrastructure in Baltimore — and its immediate impact on the community, those who were killed and their families, and a significant East Coast port — has been an all-hands-on-deck moment not just for the Department of Transportation, but across the administration,” a DOT spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

“While this incident occurred in Baltimore, it has regional and national implications, and we hope to see everyone coming together as a country to support the rebuilding efforts just as we’ve seen in previous disasters.”

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is just the latest in a string of crises which Buttigieg has been forced to handle as DOT secretary.

Republicans and some progressives have been quick to attack Buttigieg in response to the crises, arguing they reflect on his lack of experience. Hours after the bridge collapse Tuesday, for example, Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, took to social media noting the “repeated infrastructure crises under Transportation Secretary Buttigieg.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In particular, Buttigieg has been criticized for his handling of the supply chain crisis in 2021, for not doing enough to remedy major airline delays, vacationing in Portugal amid tense negotiations with rail worker unions in 2022 and not responding quickly enough to the derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio, last year.

“Whether it’s waiting weeks to visit East Palestine, vacationing in Portuguese wine country during vital union negotiations, his extended absence during one of the largest shipping crises we’ve faced, or his failure to prevent massive aviation groundings, Secretary Buttigieg has shown an inability to carry out the duties of his office,” Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., previously told Fox News Digital.

Still, it remains unclear exactly how Buttigieg’s approach to past crises has influenced his current handling of the Baltimore bridge collapse. He recently told Politico that every emergency “informs how you deal with the next one.”

FOX Business’ Eric Revell contributed to this report.



Source link

Verified by MonsterInsights