The U.S. Senate has confirmed Pete Buttigieg, a former two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination until early in 2020, as the new secretary of transportation.
The 86-13 vote by the Senate on February 2 to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee made Buttigieg, 39, the youngest member of Biden’s cabinet—and one who will be in charge of helping oversee Biden’s promised major overhaul of national infrastructure, according to The New York Times.
In a news release, the Biden Administration also announced the names of several key members who would be joining the U.S. Department of Transportation team, noting that “this diverse and experienced group will join with USDOT civil servants and other appointees already hard at work on behalf of the American people to advance President Biden’s agenda to build our country back better.”
“We welcome this experienced group who will work on behalf of the American people to build our country back better than it was before,” said Laura Schiller, chief of staff. “They join a growing team that is committed to protecting the safety of workers and travelers, supporting economic recovery, ensuring racial equity, and combating climate change.”
Aviation groups welcomed the Senate’s prompt confirmation of Buttigieg.
“AOPA congratulates Secretary Buttigieg on his confirmation and we look forward to working with him and his team to advance and grow general aviation across the country,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.
Biden introduced Buttigieg as his nominee on December 16, highlighting the nominee’s status as one of the youngest cabinet secretaries in decades, and noting that he would be “the first openly gay member of a presidential Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate,” according to NBC News.
Biden said the nomination would help him create a “Cabinet of firsts” with Buttigieg “a new voice with new ideas determined to move past old politics,” the report said.
Buttigieg, who withdrew from the presidential race after a disappointing showing in the February 29, 2020, South Carolina primary, takes over the reins of a department with 55,000 employees, of which the FAA is a part, from former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who resigned in early January along with several political appointees.
A Facebook post by Buttigieg’s hometown newspaper, the South Bend Tribune, noted that he was expected to play “an important role in promoting President Biden's green initiatives, climate change issues and infrastructure plans.”