Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said that the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, are feeling “forgotten” in the wake of the train derailment in the town that caused toxic chemicals to spill in the area.
The first-term senator visited the area with former President Trump and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) on Wednesday.
In an interview with Axios, Vance spoke of how Republican figures like himself, Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson first recognized how the people in East Palestine were “our voters.”
“The three of us, in our own ways, recognized instantly: This is fundamentally our voters, right?” Vance told Axios on Wednesday. “These are sort of our people. It’s a reasonably rural community. It’s been affected by industrialization.”
“These are the people who really lost when we lost our manufacturing base to China,” Vance continued. “And these are the people who are going to be forgotten by the media unless certain voices make sure that their interests are at the forefront.”
Vance has been one of many Republicans calling out the Biden administration that they say has not done enough to address the train disaster in Ohio. Vance and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent a letter to the Transportation Department earlier this month to raise their concerns about the derailment and demand answers.
Vance said during his visit to East Palestine on Wednesday that Norfolk Southern, the company whose train derailed on Feb. 3, should be “doing a lot more to clean up the contaminated soil.” He also called on the Biden administration to “stop blaming” Trump for the derailment.
“I haven’t spoken to President Biden. My message to him is pretty simple: The Department of Transportation — your Department of Transportation — has things it can do. Stop blaming Donald Trump, a guy who hasn’t been president for 3 years, and use the powers of the Federal Government to do the things necessary to help people in this community,” he added.
During his visit to East Palestine on Wednesday, Trump accused the Biden administration of “indifference and betrayal” regarding its response to the train derailment. The White House has responded to that criticism, saying that Republicans and Trump officials “laid the groundwork” for loose railroad regulations.