Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing demands and pressure from influential leaders across the political spectrum as tens of thousands of Americans remain stranded at airports across the nation.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,500 flights Wednesday, 62% of its scheduled flights, and plans to cancel an estimated two-thirds of flights in the following days. Democrat and GOP elected officials and political activists demanded the Department of Transportation hold the company accountable so that customers receive full refunds and accommodations.
“Southwest’s flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted Wednesday. “This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders.”
The Department of Transportation “must hold Southwest’s CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence,” Sanders added.
GOP LAWMAKER BLASTS BIDEN, BUTTIGIEG AFTER KIDS STRANDED IN BALTIMORE AMID AIRLINE CHAOS
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” in September that airline travel “is going to get better by the holidays.”
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Buttigieg in September said on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” that airline travel “is going to get better by the holidays.” Nina Turner, the national co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, blamed the problem on Buttigieg’s outsized ambitions for higher office.
“What’s happening with the railroads, airlines & the supply chain is a result of a small city mayor being made the Secretary of Transportation as a means to pad his resume for President,” she tweeted Tuesday. “Secretary Buttigieg is a prime example of failing up.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, released a statement Tuesday that declared federal rules must be updated to prevent similar disasters in the future.
“The Committee will be looking into the causes of these disruptions and its impact to consumers,” Cantwell said. “Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with consumers during flight cancellations. Consumers deserve strong protections, including an updated consumer refund rule.”
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Pete Buttigieg, right, and his husband, Chasten
(Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
For more than a year, Republican leaders have complained Buttigieg does not take his job seriously amid a series of crises for Americans. Buttigieg was on vacation in Europe as railroad unions attempted to negotiate a deal in September to avoid a potentially disastrous strike. The secretary was on paternity leave with his husband and their two newborns for several months last year as the country faced supply chain shortages.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said she nearly was unable to see her children on Christmas because of flight delays — and criticized the Department of Transportation for its slow response.
“It took four days and thousands and thousands of cancelations for DOT to finally speak up; same thing, it took four days for the CEO of Southwest to finally speak up,” Mace said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” “I hope at some point the government, when we are intervening and looking at some of these issues, that we are more efficient …….