President-elect Joe Biden has announced his pick of Pete Buttigieg to lead the US Department of Transportation.
Biden said the 38-year-old can be “a new voice” in the fight against economic inequality, institutional racism and climate change.
If confirmed, Buttigieg, a former city leader of South Bend, Indiana, will be the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate to a Cabinet post.
Making the announcement Wednesday from Wilmington, Biden hailed that and said that by the time he’s done filling out his new administration’s top positions, it will have more women and people of color than ever, promising “a Cabinet of barrier-breakers.”
Buttigieg acknowledged the historic nature of his selection, saying, “I’m also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation.”
He also related a story of seeing the Senate reject the nomination of a gay nominee during the Clinton administration, who was then made a recess appointment by President Clinton.
“I learned something about some of the limits that exists in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong. But just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged.”
Buttigieg also took a shot at the Trump administration’s record on infrastructure.
“Americans expect us to see to it that the idea of an infrastructure week is associated with results and never again a media punch line,” he said.
“America has given this administration a mandate to build back better. And step one in building back better, literally, is to build.”
Biden said Buttigieg offers “a new voice with new ideas determined to move past old politics.”
“We need someone who know how to work with state, local and federal agencies,” Biden said noting that American highways are in disrepair and that some bridges “are on the verge of collapse.”
Beyond standard transportation fixes, which are easier to promise than they are for administrations to get through Congress, Biden wants to rejuvenate the post-coronavirus pandemic economy and create thousands of green jobs by making environmentally friendly retrofits and public works improvements.
Buttigieg was the only Cabinet choice, after Biden’s defense secretary nominee, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, to appear at a solo announcement ceremony rather than be introduced with other picks. Vice president-elect Kamala Harris joined via videoconference from Washington because of a snowstorm.
Rita Osakwe/Agency Reports