Buttigieg to Testify in Affirmation Listening to for Transportation Dept.

WASHINGTON – Pete Buttigieg, the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will testify in the Senate Thursday that his confirmation hearing will be President Biden’s transportation secretary.

If confirmed, 39-year-old Buttigieg would be the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be ratified by the Senate and the youngest member of Mr Biden’s cabinet.

In his testimony to the Committee on Trade, Science and Transport, Mr Buttigieg will not focus on specific policy proposals but rather outline a broad vision for his term in office that will focus on safety, green infrastructure and investing in overhauling transport to revitalize the economy focused, after a copy of his remarks.

“We need to rebuild our economy better than ever,” he is likely to say. “The Ministry of Transport can play a central role in this.”

Mr Buttigieg’s supporters said his background could make Mr Biden an effective envoy who can help manage big changes in infrastructure.

But his critics have said that Mr. Buttigieg’s record of police practices and racial relations – including his dismissal of a black police chief and his inability to diversify South Bend’s predominantly white police force – along with his relatively little experience with the specifics of transportation overhaul, mean that he has a lot to prove.

Mr Buttigieg said he would seek to use his role to protect travelers from the pandemic while aligning the agency’s initiatives with Mr Biden’s goals on climate change, racial justice and job creation.

“I think we have a great opportunity,” he said in a video interview before his hearing. “I’m very excited to see what we can do to really build up our infrastructure in this country. There is no reason Americans should settle for anything less than our counterparts in other countries. “

If confirmed, Mr Buttigieg would take over an agency with 55,000 employees and a budget of $ 87 billion if the country’s transportation systems were hit by the pandemic.

Mr Biden has indicated that infrastructure overhaul will be a big part of the beginning of his administration. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order that mandated a mask mandate for interstate travel and federal goods. Its $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package is said to include at least $ 20 billion for difficult public transportation systems. He also wants to pass an ambitious $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan that would require significant negotiations with Congress.

Mr Biden, who compared Mr Buttigieg to his son Beau, who passed away in 2015, believes Mr Buttigieg will be an integral part of the government’s agenda to “Build Better”.

“Jobs, infrastructure, justice and climate come together in the DOT,” said Mr Biden when he announced Mr Buttigieg as his candidate for the Secretary of Transportation. “I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency and a bold vision.”

Transit experts said Mr Biden could use Mr Buttigieg’s public stature, loyal following and media awareness to drive ambitious transportation changes that have become a persistent and previously unattainable target on Capitol Hill.

“He’s a very good explainer of what he wants to do,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group. “And I think transportation could really use that now.”

Mr Buttigieg, who has met with numerous lawmakers after his appointment, said “There is such bipartisan energy on infrastructure” that he believes a deal can be made but that it will take significant work. “I think there is a real chance of doing something,” he said. “I think the challenges come when it’s time to figure out how we’re going to pay for them.”

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Buttigieg released a $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan that aimed to create six million jobs, curb the effects of climate change, and increase investment in transit, passenger and electric vehicles, while trying to cut the US road repairs backlog by half in 10 years.

As Mr Biden’s candidate, Mr Buttigieg has indicated that climate change will be a focus of the department by promoting electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said he will seek to reverse decades of transport policies that have resulted in low-income and minority residents restricting access to transport.

Mr Buttigieg would not step into the role with extensive experience in implementing federal transport policy. Polly Trottenberg, Mr. Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Transportation, headed New York City’s transportation division for seven years.

During Mr. Buttigieg’s tenure as Mayor, his standout transit achievement was a $ 25 million project called Smart Streets, which turned the one-way streets of South Bend into one-way streets with bike lanes and sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic and business activity in the downtown area.

Jeff Rea, the president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was initially skeptical when Mr Buttigieg came up with the plan, but said $ 180 million to $ 200 million of downtown investment followed and praised the Mayor for his data-driven approach to vehicle overhaul.

However, Jorden Giger, founder of the city’s Black Lives Matter chapter, said Mr. Buttigieg’s downtown revitalization plan, along with a program to demolish or repair 1,000 homes in the city, will accelerate gentrification and reduce home ownership by Minorities contributed.

Black leaders in South Bend also criticized Mr. Buttigieg’s frosty relationship with the community, saying they were concerned that his poor record of supporting minority businesses and appointing people of color to staff positions continued.

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