Washington —The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a confirmation hearing Thursday for, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Transportation Department. Buttigieg was expected to outline his vision to uphold the safety of travelers, improve the nation’s infrastructure system and fulfill Mr. Biden’s infrastructure goals amid the pandemic.
If confirmed, Buttigieg would oversee a department that requested $89 billion for the 2021 fiscal year and would potentially be tasked with trying to convince Congress to implement a major infrastructure plan that would spur job growth towards building sustainable infrastructure. But, the task may be difficult as infrastructure packages during the former President Donald Trump’s presidency faced roadblocks in Congress over funding issues.
How to watch Buttigieg’s confirmation hearing
- What: Pete Buttigieg testifies before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
- Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021
- Location: U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
“Now is the time, and we have a real chance to deliver for the American people,” Buttigieg said in prepared opening remarks. “We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this, by implementing President Biden’s infrastructure vision.”
Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, planned to tell lawmakers about his experience dealing with infrastructure and transportation issues as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He also highlighted that his experience as mayor will help guide him as he approaches transportation issues and funding for the department.
“As a mayor from the industrial Midwest, I will bring a bottom-up perspective on transportation programs and funding,” Buttigieg said in his opening remarks. “If confirmed, I look forward to working with our partners at the state, local, territorial, and tribal levels to find solutions to our infrastructure issues while we also prepare for the future of transportation at a time of great change.”
According to his prepared opening testimony, Buttigieg plans to mention that effective transportation policy can help people achieve the American Dream, but that he is also aware that “misguided policies and missed opportunities in transportation can reinforce racial and economic inequality, by dividing or isolating neighborhoods and undermining government’s basic role of empowering Americans to thrive.”
After Mr. Biden announced Buttigieg’s nomination, there were some signals of bipartisan support for Buttigieg. In a statement from December 15, Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana, who sits on the Commerce Committee, said, “As a former city leader here in Indiana, Pete understands how critical infrastructure is to growth and opportunity. It will be good to have a Hoosier serving in this capacity.”
When running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Buttigieg occasionally admitted that he thought the Trump administration would enact infrastructure reform, citing the potential job growth from an infrastructure package. In addition, Buttigieg, when talking about infrastructure on the 2020 campaign trail, also frequently advocated for the U.S. to increase investments not only in bridges, railways and roads, but also in implementing better infrastructure to provide clean, safe water.
Buttigieg is the latest of Mr. Biden’s Cabinet picks to testify before Senate committees. If confirmed, he will be the first openly LGBTQ Cabinet member to be confirmed by the Senate.