Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) and Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican
- Pete Buttigieg brushed off a GOP congressman’s attempt to make light of Biden’s mental state.
- Republican Rep. Troy Nehls pointed out that Biden recently fell off his bike.
- Buttigieg quipped that he was “glad to have a president who can ride a bicycle.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg clashed with Rep. Troy Nehls as the GOP congressman sought to turn a Tuesday House Transportation hearing focused on a bipartisan infrastructure law into a discussion of President Joe Biden’s mental state, complete with poster boards of Biden with the White House Easter Bunny.
Nehls began his question by reminding Buttigieg that he once questioned then-President Donald Trump’s mental fitness. So, the Texas Republican continued, it was fair to press Biden’s Cabinet secretary on the current president and a litany of examples that have gone viral on right-wing media as possible evidence that Biden isn’t up to the task of being the commander in chief at 79-years-old.
“Sadly, he shakes hands with ghosts and imaginary people, he falls off bicycles — even at the White House Easter celebration the Easter Bunny had to guide him back into his safe place,” Nehls said as aides held up various photos of Biden.
“First of all, I’m glad to have a president who can ride a bicycle,” Buttigieg replied.
“I will look beyond the insulting nature of that question, and make clear to you —” the secretary tried to add before Nehls interrupted him.
Lawmakers can ask anything of Cabinet secretaries when they testify before Congress, but Nehls’ tangent was particularly notable even within that context.
In particular, the Texas Republican pointed to Biden falling off of his bike last month in Delaware and later flashing a cue card that included very simple instructions like, “YOU take YOUR seat.” The Easter Bunny photo was a reference to an April incident at the Easter egg roll where the bunny, most likely a White House staffer, tried to prevent the president from talking to reporters.
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Nehls also wanted to know if Buttigieg or other members of the Biden Cabinet had discussed the 25th amendment. Buttigieg made it clear no such discussions have taken place.
“Of course not,” Buttigieg said. “The President of the United States is as vigorous a colleague or boss as I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
If the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet formally deem the president unfit for office, the vice president can temporarily become the acting president. Members of then-President Donald Trump’s Cabinet have confirmed that they discussed invoking the 25th Amendment in wake of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
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