Biden Taps Former Rival Pete Buttigieg for US Transportation Secretary -Sources

 President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pete Buttigieg to lead the U.S. Transportation Department, according to four people familiar with the matter, making him the first of Biden’s Democratic rivals for the presidency to land a role in his Cabinet.

The appointment of Buttigieg, 38, is another step in a meteoric political rise for the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who showed surprising strength as a presidential candidate. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he would run a sprawling federal agency that oversees the nation’s airlines, highways and transit systems.

Buttigieg would also make history as the first LGBTQ person nominated to Biden’s administration and, if confirmed, the first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary to be approved by the Senate.

An announcement on his nomination is imminent, the people familiar with the matter said, asking for anonymity before a formal announcement. A spokesman for Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for Buttigieg also did not respond to a request for comment.

Buttigieg had been rumored for several different spots in Biden’s administration. He was surprisingly competitive during the Democratic Party primary, winning the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa, showing formidable fundraising might and enjoying massive popularity on social media.

Once Biden took control of the race after winning the South Carolina primary in February, Buttigieg quickly dropped out and endorsed him, helping Biden consolidate the support of the moderate, establishment wing of the party. He became a valued Biden supporter on television in the election’s final weeks.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, praised the nomination, saying Buttigieg “was open and honest” about his identity and gave a voice to the community.

“His voice as a champion for the LGBTQ community in the Cabinet room will help President-elect Biden build back our nation better, stronger and more equal than before,” Alphonso David, the group’s president, said in a statement.

Despite being viewed as a rising star within the party, Buttigieg’s potential nomination to a Cabinet post has been opposed by a number of progressive groups and Black leaders who have criticized his record on civil rights.

During the Democratic primary, Buttigieg faced attacks from African-American activists, who argued he did not do enough as mayor to battle systemic racism in South Bend and help Black residents share in the city’s economic revitalization. He also was criticized over the shooting death of a Black man by a white police officer in South Bend, as well as questions over diversity on the city’s police force.

The top transportation job offers him a chance to confront the nation’s history of plowing highways through disadvantaged neighborhoods, and what advocates say are the lasting social, economic and environmental consequences of doing so.

At 78, Biden will be the oldest person to assume the presidency in U.S. history, leading to speculation that he may only serve one term. While Kamala Harris, Biden’s vice president, could be the leading contender to succeed him, Buttigieg’s transportation post will allow him to travel to communities across the country and remain in the public eye – something that could buttress a future presidential run.

EMPHASIS ON LOYALTY

Biden has appeared largely unconcerned by liberal complaints about appointments to his administration, preferring to reward those who demonstrated loyalty to his campaign when it was struggling to build support.

A U.S. Navy veteran who served as a reservist in Afghanistan, Buttigieg had also been considered to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. That slot went to former Obama White House aide Denis McDonough.

Buttigieg’s nomination is in line with Biden’s stated commitment to diversity in the Cabinet.

U.S. Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico has emerged as Biden’s leading choice to head the Interior Department, according to three sources familiar with the decision process, a selection that would make her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency.

At the Transportation Department, Buttigieg may be tasked with overseeing much of Biden’s plan to dramatically boost infrastructure spending, including building 550,000 electric vehicle charging stations and boosting spending on high-speed rail and other green projects, and persuading Congress to find a way to pay for new spending.

Since 2008, Congress has transferred about $141 billion in general revenues to the Highway Trust Fund. To maintain existing spending levels, Congress will need to find $107 billion over five years, government auditors say.

Buttigieg would face challenges on aviation, including plans in Congress to overhaul how the Federal Aviation Administration certifies new airplanes in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes that led to the plane’s grounding for 20 months.

He would also have to decide how to oversee self-driving cars and driver assistance systems like Tesla Inc’s autopilot that have come under scrutiny following fatal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a Transportation Department agency, has not had a Senate-confirmed administrator since January 2017.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Wilmington and David Shepardson in Washington. Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Writing by James Oliphant, Editing by Soyoung Kim and Howard Goller)

Responses

  1. “General, I am not following your logic.” Phyllis

    I didn’t think that I would have to lay out swampiness to you.

    Mayor Pete played the game and he is being rewarded with an important administrative position, for which he is not professionally trained, for cooperating with the party when asked to do so. Nothing unusual there. That’s Washington, but I don’t have to like it.

    As for Warren, that one may have confused you more easily. We don’t necessarily know ALL of the reasons behind her hanging on for so long during her candidacy, but we can be damned certain that she was holding on for getting something that she wanted. Unfortunately for her, she blew it when Obama started asking candidates to drop out, so that they could sideline Sanders. Warren did not, but her ambitions didn’t end there. She still wants a hand in Biden’s administration, but that hasn’t worked out yet, either. Personal ambition above the needs of the party. Doesn’t always work.

    Playing the game is all part of the swamp. Win some, lose some.

  2. Ed Mcguire, you look at Pete Buttigieg’s background and all you see is a “GAY PROGRESSIVE”?? You certainly did not look at Buttigieg. He is a grad of Harvard and a Rhodes Scholar. According to Trump, graduating from an ivy league school makes one “a genius.” Unlike Trump, Buttigieg graduated magna cum laude. Unlike Trump, Buttigieg served in the U.S. Navy Reserves was deployed to Afghanistan and served in navy intelligence. Buttigieg WON 2 terms as mayor—Trump you will recall had zero experience and lost the popular vote by 3 million and 7 million votes in his only elections. Also unlike Trump, he has NO rap sheet of fines or law suits for fraud. Yes, he is openly gay. I would hold Buttigieg’s moral character above that of the current Sec. of Transportation AND the current POTUS.

  3. General, I am not following your logic. Pete Buttigieg is the Swamp because he was a candidate in the primary and dropped out?? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders dropped out of the primary as well. Senators Warren and Sanders ARE of Washington. Sanders for 30 years. (15 yrs in the House and 14 yrs in the Senate!) More importantly, they represent states with Republican governors who will appoint their replacements if selected for a Cabinet position. In WHAT WORLD does it make sense to select either of them? If the D’s had the Senate majority that they did in 2009, then okay. Earth to, the General, THEY DON’T. For a guy that does not like Mitch, you appear to want him to be in control of the Senate again.

  4. “How much more foolish is this going to get?” ed

    I am confused, ed, what’s your problem? This is just typical swamp politics, nothing unusual.

    “He ran as a GAY PROGRESSIVE and thar’s all hr had to offer.” ed

    Oh, I see. Never mind.

  5. How much more foolish is this going to get? A small town ineffective mayor wko couldn’t get the support of his police dept. He ran as a gay progressive and thar’s all hr had to offer.

  6. As if any small city mayor is going to be professionally qualified to manage a nation’s transport needs, but, hey, he stepped aside when asked to do so by the Big O at just the right time, so he has to be rewarded SOMEHOW, right? This is all part of the grooming process of ‘advancement in the swamp’.

    Elizabeth Warren won’t be so lucky.

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