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President Biden 'will go to East Palestine,' White House press secretary says

Seven months after the toxic train derailment, the White House press secretary says President Biden will visit East Palestine. No date or time has been announced.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Just over seven months since the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, the eastern Ohio community still has not been visited by President Joe Biden. 

However, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the president still intends to make a trip to East Palestine. "The President will go to East Palestine. He promised that he would, and he will," Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday. 

Back in March, Biden told NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles that he planned to visit the site of the derailment "at some point." 

"I've spoken with every official in Ohio — Democrat and Republican — on a continuous basis, as in Pennsylvania, and laid out a little bit in there what I think the answers are when we put them together," Biden said, "and we will be implementing an awful lot to the legislature here and I will be out there at some point."

Amid recent visits to disaster sites in Hawaii and Florida, Biden was asked last weekend if he still intended to get to East Palestine. 

"I haven't had the occasion to go to East Palestine. There is a lot going on here and I haven't been able to break," Biden said while touring areas in Florida impacted by Hurricane Idalia. "I figured I would go to East Palestine this week, but I was then reminded that I have to go around the world. I'm going from Washington to India to Vietnam and so it is going to be a while. But, we are making sure that East Palestine has what they need materially in order to deal with the problems."

Biden's response to the question drew criticism from GOP members of Congress from Ohio, including Sen. JD Vance and Rep. Bill Johnson.

"It’s now been just over 7 months -  213 days since the derailment and 186 days since he (Biden) promised he would visit," Johnson wrote in a tweet on Monday. "He’s had multiple opportunities.  Sadly, the only reasonable explanation at this point for his choosing not to visit is that he simply doesn’t care."

“Over 100 days ago, Joe Biden promised that he would visit East Palestine, and he has broken that promise – refused to visit. And more importantly… he has refused to actually employ the services of his government to help the people of East Palestine," Vance told Fox News last week.

At Tuesday's White House briefing, Fox News' Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre, "The President said over the long weekend that he hasn’t had the occasion to go to East Palestine. “I just haven’t been able to break.” The derailment was on February 3rd. President Biden has not had a break since February 3rd?"

"The President will go to East Palestine. He promised that he would, and he will," she replied.

"So, he was not on a break when he was in Lake Tahoe?" Doocy asked.

"I will say this again: The President is going to go to East Palestine, as he has said that he is committed to do. You saw him just this Saturday visit a rural area — right? — that was devastated — some parts were devastated by Hurricane Idalia. And he was there with the First Lady. They were able to hear directly from the American people. And he was able to talk about what is it that they need, what is it — what else do they need from the federal government. So, the President is going to go to East Palestine. I don’t have a time or a — or a date to announce at this time, but he will go," Jean-Pierre added.

You can watch Tuesday's White House briefing below.

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