(Ken Silva, Headline USA) As a congressman from Indiana who hopes to serve as the state’s next U.S. senator, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., has grave concerns about the potential fallout from the catastrophic train derailment several hundred miles away in East Palestine, Ohio.
His concerns are for good reason: Not only do the two states share a border; many Indiana towns receive their drinking water from the Ohio River, which may have been contaminated from the release of toxic chemicals.
However, Banks told Headline USA that he’s yet to receive any information from the Biden administration on the Feb. 3 incident, or the other recent derailments.
“This administration is sweeping it under the rug,” he said. “Obviously, it affects people in my state. They want to know what’s going on.”
Likewise, Banks said he didn’t receive any new information from the Biden administration on the recent sightings of Chinese surveillance balloons—even when he was briefed on the matter behind closed doors.
“We had classified briefings in Congress that I can’t talk about, but nothing was revealed in the classified briefings that hasn’t already been discussed publicly,” he said, adding, “We went from the most transparent president ever to the least transparent president ever.”
The congressman called out mainstream media outlets for their lack of criticism on Biden’s silence.
“First of all, if President Trump were as silent as Biden has been, the media would be howling about it. The hypocrisy is thick,” he said.
“But [Trump] would have handled it in a much more public way. He was the most transparent president of our lifetime. He would have spoken to the American people.”
Banks said transparency is at the top of the new Republican-controlled House’s agenda.
“Now that we have the majority, we have to use it to demand answers from the administration,” he said.
In addition to the aforementioned issues, Banks said he expects answers on controversial matters such as the recent report that Biden sabotaged Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines last September.
The House Armed Services Committee member said he’s seen—but hasn’t yet read—the blockbuster report last week from Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh.
Nevertheless, “it obviously raises a lot of questions, and I hope we get a chance on the Armed Services Committee to ask about it,” he said.
“Every year, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense come before the committee, and I imagine this will be one of the questions we ask with them under oath, in front of the full committee.”
Along with transparency, Banks is also seeking to refocus government’s priorities on the homeland. He lamented the fact that the Biden administration is seemingly focused on its war efforts in Ukraine, while neglecting issues that directly affect Americans.
That’s why Banks voted against a recent $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, and why he agrees with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that the days of “blank checks” for Ukraine are over, he said.
“I believe America can’t lead abroad when we’re so weak at home. We need to focus on our own issues before we invest so heavily in places like Ukraine. Maybe in a different era where we’re strong and on our feet, but right now we have an open border and the biggest humanitarian crisis in U.S. history—fentanyl is the leading cause of death of Americans my age,” he said.
“By the way,” Banks added, “almost all of fentanyl coming into this country is made in China, and I don’t believe there’s any coincidence there. They funnel it through the southern border and it ends up in communities where I come from in Indiana. So it’s hard for me to justify to my constituents that we can spend tens of billions on Ukraine with these kinds of problems at home.”
Banks’ “America First” agenda and accountability plans for the Biden administration are a preview of what he hopes to bring to the Senate in 2024, he said.
“I’m in my fourth term in the House, and I’ve had frustrations over the last few years looking at the Senate and wondering where’s their will to fight. We have a lot of fighters in the House fighting for our country, but the Senate is mostly go along to get along—and we don’t have any time left for that.”
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.