Senate Confirms Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary


The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary.

Buttigieg, a 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and President Joe Biden’s one-time rival during the Democratic presidential primaries, was approved on a 86-13 vote.

Buttigieg takes over a Transportation Department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions dollars.

He is tasked with overseeing America’s airlines, buses, city subway systems and Amtrak, all reeling from coronavirus lockdowns and plummeting ridership.

He is expected to promote sweeping environmental initiatives as part of Biden’s $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. That plan will be focused on expanding zero-emission mass transit while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure, including building 500,000 charging stations over the next decade.

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Before approval by the full Senate, Buttigieg had cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on a 21-3 vote.

Some Republican senators during his hearing questioned the administration’s plan to redirect money for climate initiatives.

“Transportation issues historically have been addressed on a bipartisan basis, and I expect to continue that practice with Mr. Buttigieg,” Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the panel, said.

Biden hasn’t indicated how he intends to pay for the infrastructure plan, coming on top of the administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion virus relief plan that has met resistance in Congress.

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Buttigieg’s suggestion during his hearing that a gas tax hike might be needed was immediately walked back by his spokesman afterward.

“We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this,” Buttigieg said during his confirmation hearing last week.

He said that creating jobs, combating climate change and addressing racial and economic inequality will drive funding decisions at the department.

Buttigieg, a Harvard graduate and Afghanistan veteran, cited his experience as a mayor and on the campaign trail. He described initiating a program to make South Bend’s downtown more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly.

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