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Senate confirms Buttigieg as transportation secretary

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WASHINGTON — Pete Buttigieg received Senate approval Tuesday as transportation secretary, the primary brazenly homosexual particular person to be confirmed to a Cupboard submit. He’ll be tasked with advancing President Joe Biden’s formidable agenda of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and combating local weather change.

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

“I’m honored and humbled by immediately’s vote within the Senate—and able to get to work,” Buttigieg tweeted shortly after he was confirmed.

Praised by Biden as bringing a “new voice” to the administration, Buttigieg takes over a Transportation Division with 55,000 staff and a funds of tens of billions {dollars}. He has pledged to shortly get to work selling security and restoring shopper belief in America’s transportation networks as airways, buses, metropolis subway programs and Amtrak reel from plummeting ridership within the coronavirus pandemic.

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He’s anticipated to play an necessary function in selling Biden’s sweeping inexperienced initiatives, serving to to supervise stronger automotive gas economic system requirements to scale back greenhouse fuel emissions and assist the president’s push later this yr on a $2 trillion local weather and infrastructure plan. That plan will probably be targeted on rebuilding roads and bridges and increasing zero-emission mass transit whereas boosting electrical car infrastructure, together with constructing 500,000 charging stations over the subsequent decade.

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Talking on the Senate flooring earlier than the vote, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, the incoming chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, praised Buttigieg’s power and recent method and mentioned she seemed ahead to his management to handle an growing old infrastructure, together with the “crumbling off of bridges, delayed trains, buses, congestion, railroads, or any of the numerous points.”

“Everyone knows the nominee as Mayor Pete, a person who mainly got here onto the nationwide stage as a Midwest mayor, who had a number of enthusiasm for making investments in America’s future,” she mentioned. “He is a younger, energetic mayor who’s going to assist us usher in a brand new period of transportation.”

Earlier than approval by the complete Senate, Buttigieg had cleared the committee on a 21-Three vote. Some Republican senators throughout his listening to signaled possible fights forward over the fee and scope of updating the nation’s roads and bridges, rails and airports, questioning specifically the administration’s curiosity in redirecting cash for local weather initiatives. However they mentioned they might stay up for additional discussions with Buttigieg, together with on their desired native tasks.

Biden hasn’t indicated how he intends to pay for an infrastructure plan, approaching prime of the administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion virus aid plan that has met some headwinds in Congress. Buttigieg’s suggestion throughout his listening to {that a} fuel tax hike could be wanted was instantly walked again by his spokesman afterward.

“We have to construct our economic system again, higher than ever, and the Division of Transportation can play a central function on this,” Buttigieg instructed his affirmation listening to final week, noting that the transportation sector, significantly automotive emissions, is the only greatest contributor within the U.S. to international warming.

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He harassed that creating jobs, tackling the local weather disaster and addressing racial and financial inequality will drive funding choices on the division.

The Afghanistan battle veteran burst onto the nationwide scene in 2019 after launching a longshot presidential bid, introducing himself to voters as “Mayor Pete” and drawing preliminary skepticism because of his youth and restricted authorities expertise. He outperformed expectations after zeroing in on a message of generational change, ending the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses in a digital tie with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

However Buttigieg struggled to enchantment to Black voters and dropped out of the race after a crushing loss to Biden within the South Carolina main. Buttigieg selected to shortly endorse Biden, serving to him solidify centrist assist in opposition to Sanders’ robust liberal problem.

Buttigieg, a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, now factors to his expertise as a mayor and on the marketing campaign path as worthwhile to his ground-level method to enhancing transportation. He described initiating a “sensible streets” program to make South Bend’s downtown extra pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly whereas spurring a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in financial funding.

He is additionally anticipated to be an everyday presence on TV, serving to to promote the president’s insurance policies as he did throughout Biden’s marketing campaign. Since he was nominated, Buttigieg has appeared on “The View,” “The Tonight Present,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in addition to Fox native associates, addressing subjects from Donald Trump’s impeachment and the remedy of veterans to his targets of selling green-friendly journey.

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Buttigieg brings variety to the Cupboard. There hasn’t been an brazenly homosexual Cupboard secretary earlier than. Below President Donald Trump, Richard Grenell served as appearing director of nationwide intelligence and is brazenly homosexual, however didn’t must face Senate affirmation as an appearing director. Within the late 1990s, Senate Majority Chief Trent Lott blocked a affirmation vote on President Invoice Clinton’s choose for ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, over his sexual orientation; Clinton in the end put in Hormel with a recess appointment.

“Congratulations to Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his historic affirmation,” Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Marketing campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, mentioned after the vote. “This affirmation breaks by way of a barrier that has existed for too lengthy, the place LGBTQ identification served as an obstacle to nomination or affirmation on the highest stage of presidency.”

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