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One hundred and sixty-six days ago, Joe Biden promised he would visit East Palestine. He has failed to keep that promise.

An Op-Ed Published In The Columbus Dispatch
By Senator JD Vance  |  August 15, 2023

We all remember the harrowing image of a mushroom cloud over East Palestine.

An explosive train derailment destroyed a small Ohio town and captured the nation’s attention.
It is difficult to fathom how a singular event could upend the daily lives of thousands of our fellow Americans. Hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals polluted the ground they walked, the water they drank, and the air they breathed. The disaster created new uncertainties for everyone nearby. Do I have to find a new home? Is my small businesses going to survive? Will I suffer long-term health effects?
Residents have asked me: when the cameras and reporters disappear, will the country forget about what happened to our home? Will our political leaders forget about us and our families?
I visited East Palestine again yesterday. Just over six months have now passed since the disaster.
By all accounts, our country and our political class have forgotten.
Sometimes leadership is as simple as showing up. When a disaster decimates an American community, the commander-in-chief should be expected to assure the suffering, in person, that the entire nation is behind them.
One hundred and sixty-six days ago, Joe Biden promised he would visit East Palestine. He has failed to keep that promise.
Not only has Joe Biden refused to visit East Palestine, but he has also refused to grant critical assistance to the recovery effort.
Weeks ago, Gov. Mike DeWine requested a Major Disaster Declaration from the president.

The Biden administration has ignored Ohio’s pleas for help. This is inexcusable: a disaster declaration would guarantee the delivery of resources the community needs to save itself.

Cleanup efforts overseen by Joe Biden’s environmental protection officials have also been woefully inadequate.
Six months after the disaster, the removal of contaminants remains an ongoing project: thousands of tons of chemical soil remain in East Palestine.
condemned the unacceptable pace of the cleanup months ago, and I’m growing angrier by the day as improvements are not made. No one can expect the people of East Palestine to return to normal until the hazardous waste in their backyard is gone for good.
Despite the federal government’s vast resources, it appears to be woefully incapable of monitoring the long-term health impacts of a chemical spill.
Many residents of East Palestine have told me that the new health clinic in town, stood up to respond to their derailment-related health concerns, has failed to do anything of the sort. What residents want — and deserve — is meaningful health monitoring. If their health is normal, they deserve that peace of mind. If, God forbid, they feel sick, they deserve a diagnosis so they can receive the treatment they need. 
I have submitted detailed requests to Joe Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health requesting the implementation of health monitoring programs for the residents of East Palestine.
I have been shocked by the federal government’s inability to satisfy my requests, and I will continue to demand action.
In Congress, I have spent months working to advance meaningful railway safety legislation to prevent what happened in East Palestine from happening again.
We have made significant progress, and I was glad to hear the Senate majority leader put this bill at the top of the docket for when the Senate returns from August recess.
However, too many colleagues in my party have continued to defend the railroad industry from reasonable, widely supported safety improvements that would have prevented this disaster in the first place.
I have been a Republican for my entire life, and I am under no delusions about my party’s traditional antipathy to regulation. However, we cannot allow railroad companies to continue under the same status quo that led to disaster in my state. We must hold them to higher standards of safety.
The responsibility for preventing the next derailment disaster falls upon me and my colleagues in Congress as well as federal regulators, not to mention the railroad industry itself.
While railway safety legislation advances in the Capitol, the Biden administration and Norfolk Southern must double their efforts to remediate the impacts of the East Palestine derailment.
President Biden may have forgotten East Palestine’s tragedy, but its citizens will never forget his administration’s failed leadership. It’s past time for the president to right his wrongs and deliver the relief East Palestine needs.
I’ll never stop fighting for East Palestine. There is much work to be done.