President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary, according to news reports.
The move will elevate the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to a top post in the federal government.
In his nomination of Buttigieg, Biden called him “a new voice.”
“We need someone who knows how to work with state, local and federal agencies,” Biden said, noting that highways are in disrepair and that some bridges “are on the verge of collapse.”
Buttigieg, 38, would be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary, should his nomination make it through the chamber.
As transportation secretary, Buttigieg is expected to play a central role in Biden’s push for a bipartisan infrastructure package.
Clean energy shift
The U.S. Department of Transportation distributes hundreds of billions of dollars in federal highway funding and regulates aviation, railroads and busing.
As part of his proposal to shift to clean energy, Biden has proposed placing 500,000 charging stations along highways and changing federal vehicles to electric power, according to news reports.
Buttigieg would replace Elaine Chao, who has been transportation secretary since 2017. The Republican has been praised for rolling back regulations that have been seen as cumbersome and costly by operators.
Before Buttigieg’s name surfaced, the name of another Midwest mayor emerged. Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago Mayor and Chief of Staff under President Barack Obama, was being floated as a contender.
Among his supporters are former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, who told Politico that Emanuel “would be the best choice for secretary because of the way he transformed transportation in Chicago.” He faced opposition, however, from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party because of his handling of the police shooting of an unarmed Black man.
Buttigieg has his own supporters, according to the Associated Press, which reported the following: Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Buttigieg was “more than ready to finally address our nation’s infrastructure crisis.” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., applauded Biden for tapping someone with “plenty of intellect, vision and drive” to take a shot at modernizing America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.