Pete Buttigieg won Senate approval as transportation secretary on Tuesday, the first gay person to be confirmed for a cabinet position. You will be tasked with advancing Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and fighting climate change.
Buttigieg, the 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a longtime rival of Biden during the Democratic presidential primary, was approved with a vote of 86-13.
“I’m honored and humbled by today’s Senate vote, and I’m ready to get to work,” Buttigieg tweeted shortly after his confirmation.
Praised by Biden for bringing a “new voice” to management, Buttigieg takes over a transportation department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions of dollars.
He is committed to getting to work quickly to promote safety and restore consumer confidence in America’s transportation networks as airlines, buses, city subway systems, and Amtrak rebound from the drop in passenger number plummeted in the coronavirus pandemic.
Buttigieg brings diversity to the cabinet. Under Donald Trump, Richard Grenell served as acting director of national intelligence and is gay, but did not have to face Senate confirmation as acting director.
Buttigieg is expected to play an important role in promoting Biden’s broad green initiatives, helping to oversee stronger automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the president’s push later this year. for a $ 2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. That plan will focus on rebuilding roads and bridges and expanding zero-emission public transport, while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure, including the construction of 500,000 charging stations over the next decade.
Biden has not indicated how he intends to pay for an infrastructure plan in addition to the administration’s proposed $ 1.9 trillion virus relief plan that has run into some hurdles in Congress. Buttigieg’s suggestion during his hearing that an increase in the gasoline tax might be necessary was immediately rejected by his spokesman.
The Afghan war veteran burst onto the national scene in 2019 after launching a risky presidential bid, introducing himself to voters as “Mayor Pete” and generating initial skepticism due to his youth and limited experience in government. He exceeded expectations after focusing on a generational change message, ending the first Iowa caucuses in the nation in a virtual tie with Bernie Sanders.
But Buttigieg struggled to attract black voters and withdrew from the race after a crushing loss to Biden in the South Carolina primary. Buttigieg chose to quickly back Biden, helping him solidify centrist support against Sanders’ strong liberal challenge.
“Congratulations to Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his historic confirmation,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ + advocacy group, after the vote. “This confirmation breaks a barrier that has existed for too long, where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism