Biden picks Buttigieg for U.S. transportation secretary

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Updated Feb 3, 2021
Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg

Note: This story was updated February 3, 2021.

Pete Buttigieg, former Democratic presidential primary contender and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will serve as U.S. secretary of transportation after his nomination by President Joe Biden was confirmed February 2 by the U.S. Senate.

Buttigieg, 38, becomes the first openly gay cabinet secretary.

He served as mayor of South Bend for eight years. His last term ended in January after he decided not to seek a third term. He dropped out of the primary in March and soon endorsed Biden.

During his campaign for the Democratic presidential primaries, Buttigieg unveiled a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure plan. In that plan, he spoke of getting funding into the hands of local governments.

Funding for the plan would have been from raising capital gains taxes, estate taxes and repealing 2017 tax cuts. The campaign said it would create 6 million jobs. Highlights included $165 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through 2029 and $150 billion to improve public transportation.

The Biden campaign called for a $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which sought raises in the corporate tax rate and taxes on the wealthy. Biden’s plan also called for more funding for roads and bridges and public transportation, while also focusing on electric vehicles and trains.

Both Buttigieg and Biden plans focused on infrastructure as a way to boost jobs.

Biden was also reportedly considering Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and chief of staff for President Barack Obama, for the transportation post. Emanuel, though, came under fire from civil rights activists for his handling of the death of a Black teenager shot by a white Chicago police officer.

Buttigieg’s resume includes serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 2009 to 2017, as well as a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer in 2014. He served as mayor from January 1, 2012, to January 1, 2020. Before that he was a consultant at McKinsey & Company consulting firm in Chicago. In 2015, he announced publicly that he is gay. In February, he became the first openly gay person to win a presidential primary or caucus.

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He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in England. He speaks eight different languages.

He served on a 15-member advisory board for Biden’s presidential transition team.