It has been exactly seven months since Feb. 3 when a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, causing an environmental disaster and the evacuation of inhabitants of nearby towns. President Joe Biden still has yet to visit the area. Biden has spent the highest percentage of his time on vacation of any president, at 40% of his term. He explained to reporters he has not "had the occasion to go to East Palestine. There’s a lot going on here, and I just haven’t been able to break."
BIDEN: “I haven’t had the occasion to go to East Palestine. There’s a lot going on.” pic.twitter.com/YfQAt7DoYK
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 3, 2023
Biden travels to Florida, and another vacation
Biden made these statements during his visit to Florida following Hurricane Idalia. His words caused backlash on social media, where users charged harshly against the president. Despite the criticism, after the trip to The Sunshine State, Biden returned to Rehoboth Beach, Del., to rest over Labor Day weekend.
Asked about his plans to visit East Palestine, where the cleanup work continues, Biden again excused his presence in the short term: "I was thinking whether I’d go to East Palestine this week, but I was reminded I’ve got to go literally around the world. I’m going from Washington to India to Vietnam." The president concluded, "It’s going to be a while, but we’re making sure that East Palestine has what they need materially in order to deal with their problems."
382 vacation days out of 957 total
So far, as calculated by the Republican National Committee, Biden has used 382 of the 957 days of his presidency — or 40% — on personal overnight trips away from the White House, a figure markedly higher than that of his predecessors.
So far, no event has managed to disrupt the president's days off. Neither the train derailment seven months ago, nor the wild fires of Maui with more than a hundred dead and hundreds missing. In the case of Ohio, Biden promised to visit the area six months ago.