Progressives take aim at Buttigieg over Southwest fiasco

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Progressives have set their sights on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over the Southwest Airlines vacation trip debacle, which continues to cause massive delays and cancellations across the country, further scrutinizing the Department of Transportation’s practices. I am asking you to

Capitol Hill’s leading left-wing lawmaker, Rep. Law Khanna (D-California), tweeted on Thursday about the Department of Transportation’s response to the catastrophe that left travelers in a frenzy and panicked government officials. questioned.

“Almost 6 months ago @BernieSanders and I called on Buttigieg to impose fines and penalties on airlines for canceling flights. Why didn’t they follow these recommendations?” did. “This mess with Southwest could have been avoided. Bold action is needed.”

Khanna, who co-chaired Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, was referring to a recommendation released by Vermont senators in late June, but Khanna said she’s been criticizing travelers for canceled or significantly delayed flights. It urged ministry officials to compensate airlines and demand airlines cover basic expenses such as food and lodging. Approved.

California liberals on the House Oversight and Reform Committee have openly criticized Buttigieg’s role in the process, describing him in an interview with The Prospect as “unfair and deceptive practices.” asking him to exercise more power to pursue ” by the aviation industry.

The Southwest episode sparked outrage among passengers trying to navigate unusually long flight delays and cancellations with minimal contact from airlines. It circulated through agencies and highlighted stories of travelers who missed their personal and professional obligations in the midst of turmoil.

The matter escalated to the Biden administration, and Buttigieg promised to work toward a resolution by speaking with Southwest’s CEO and other stakeholders.

“I’ve never seen a situation with this amount of disruption, at least not on my watch, so this will require an extraordinary level of effort by Southwest,” he told ABC earlier this week. “And we go to great lengths to make sure they are doing their duty.”

But progressives like Khanna and others aligned with the Sanders faction of the Democratic Party could have averted the whole situation, and Buttigieg “acted boldly” to mitigate further damage. said that should be taken.

Former Ohio Senator Nina Turner, another Sanders presidential campaign co-chair and recent congressional candidate, echoed Khanna’s sentiments, while a Sanders ally and left-wing alternative media figure. One David Sirota put direct pressure on Buttigieg to demand more accountability… take stronger action.

“For months, state law enforcement officials on both sides have sounded alarm bells about airlines abusing customers. And even if airlines benefit from billions of dollars in government support and federal regulators refuse to exercise their power, these officials are unable to take action to protect consumers.” writes Sirota. In a note asking for signatures linked to his newsletter.

“This is incompetence,” Turner wrote, tweeting a link to Sirota’s report. “Putting unqualified people in positions of authority to bid on companies gives you this. There is a direct line from Secretary Buttigeig to the Southwest Airlines bankruptcy, but you shouldn’t pretend it isn’t there.”

Sanders himself called on the Department of Transportation to hold Southwest accountable in a tweet Wednesday.

“The delays and cancellations of Southwest Airlines flights are unacceptable, a company that will receive a $7 billion taxpayer bailout and will pay out $428 million in dividends to wealthy shareholders,” he wrote. I’m here. “@USDOT needs to hold Southwest CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence.”

Khanna and Buttigieg are both being talked about as 2024 contenders, but each downplays the speculation. Both have vowed to endorse President Biden if he seeks re-election in the White House for a second term, but both have drawn attention for their different approaches to Democratic politics.

Buttigieg, 40, rose to prominence as the young former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who won the Iowa caucuses as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee but ultimately declined, endorsing Biden. Biden eventually tapped him to head the transportation sector, citing executive experience overseeing American cities.

Khanna, 46, was also in the public eye during Biden’s term, working among fellow progressives in the House and pushing the president to the left during his first term. He advocated a populist economic agenda to stimulate innovation and promote economic growth for working-class people.

A DOT spokesperson told The Hill that the agency “imposed the largest fines in the history of the Consumer Protection Agency this year, helping hundreds of thousands of people recover hundreds of millions of dollars.” rice field.

A spokeswoman said: “In August, Secretary Buttigieg announced plans to cover the costs of rebooking, guarantee meals and hotels for passengers whose flights that were under the airline’s control were canceled or delayed. , put pressure on airlines to do more,” he added. Guaranteed meals and hotel in the event of cancellations or delays due to airline issues, and all 10 guarantee free rebooking. ”

A spokesperson said the agency “will hold Southwest Airlines accountable, including pursuing fines against the airline, if there is evidence that the airline failed to meet its legal obligations.”

Update: 17:22

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