President Joe Biden has no plans to visit the site of the toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio, despite saying last week that he intends to go there.
Administration officials say a trip to East Palestine is not on the president's schedule and there's no trip in the works, NBC News reported.
"When or if the president should go is of course a question we would talk about, but I don't think this is something we've been agonizing over in real-time," a senior White House official said, NBC News reported.
The White House has insisted that Biden didn't visit the scene earlier because he didn’t want to distract from the clean-up effort. As time passes, tough, some officials are growing more puzzled about the president’s decision not to travel to East Palestine.
Even some administration officials are confused.
"I think he should have gone earlier, but I have to assume there were really smart discussions behind the scenes that presented a viable reason why he was waiting to go," one administration official said, NBC News reported.
A Norfolk Southern Railway derailed on Feb. 3. Three days later, crews began releasing toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding.
Former President Donald Trump, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, visited the area on Feb. 22.
The former president brought pallets of bottled water and accused the Biden administration of a lackluster response to the disaster.
The next day, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg toured the wreckage of the train derailment.
Biden's absence has left some officials perplexed.
"I'm shocked that it hasn’t happened," former Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said, NBC News reported. "I just don’t understand. This is not a hard one.
"It's imperative that he shows up there and not just shed light on it [the cleanup] today but make sure the effort is sustained."
Republicans also want Biden to appear in East Palestine.
"I do want the president to come, and the sooner the better," said Michael Rulli, a Republican state senator from Ohio who represents the East Palestine area.
"He mentioned that at some point he'd like to be there. I think the point is right now."
Rulli added that Biden should come to East Palestine with scientists who are prepared to answer residents' questions about health hazards posed by the Norfolk Southern derailment, NBC News said.
Ohio Republican governor Mike DeWine last week has called on Biden to visit the derailment scene.
"Look, he should come," DeWine told Fox News. "There’s no doubt about it. The president needs to come. The people want to see the president. He should be there."
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