President Biden said Thursday he will visit East Palestine, Ohio, “at some point” in the wake of a train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals into the community.
“I’ve spoken with every official in Ohio, Democrat and Republican, on a continuing basis, as in Pennsylvania,” Biden told reporters after leaving a lunch at the Capitol with Senate Democrats.
“We will be implementing an awful lot through the legislation here, and I will be out there at some point,” Biden added.
When asked about Biden’s comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later added that she had no new travel to announce for the president.
Biden has faced a steady stream of criticism from Republicans over his decision so far not to visit East Palestine, where a Norfolk Southern train derailed in early February. Former President Trump traveled to East Palestine last month to bring supplies and offer support for the community, which the White House and Democrats called a political ploy.
Biden administration officials have repeatedly noted that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives were in East Palestine within hours of the Feb. 3 derailment, and that the agency is taking the lead on the federal response. Biden has been briefed on the situation regularly, officials said, and he has spoken with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D), among others.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan has made multiple trips to the area, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine last Thursday to meet with local leaders and community members.
The White House has gone on offense against Republicans in recent days, arguing that GOP lawmakers and the Trump administration fought to relax regulations on railways and on environmental standards.
But the administration has been under fire for not sending top officials including Regan and Buttigieg to the site sooner, putting political pressure on Biden over the fallout — including Republicans who criticized the president for making an overseas trip to Ukraine before he visited the impacted Ohio community.