Pete Buttigieg aims for ‘generational’ change as secretary of transportation

President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, is pledging to carry out the administration’s ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, calling it a 'generational opportunity' to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change.

Posted: Jan 21, 2021 10:36 AM
Updated: Jan 21, 2021 11:24 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, is pledging to carry out the administration’s ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, calling it a “generational opportunity” to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change.

“We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this,” the 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, intends to tell the Senate Commerce Committee, according to prepared remarks for his confirmation hearing Thursday.

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Transportation Secretary former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File)

“You have my commitment that I will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and growth that America needs in this area,” he said in the remarks.

A former Democratic presidential rival whom Biden praised for bringing fresh ideas, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate to a Cabinet post.

He was among the first batch of Cabinet selections getting hearings this week as Biden urges the new Democratic-led Senate, which holds the slimmest majority, to quickly confirm his nominees.

Buttigieg would take over at a critical time for transportation, charged with implementing Biden’s proposals to spend billions of dollars making major infrastructure improvements and on retrofitting initiatives that can help the U.S. battle climate change.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated many modes of transportation, with airlines, city subway systems and Amtrak seeking federal aid to help keep afloat.

The Biden administration also is likely to reverse course on some of President Donald Trump’s moves to loosen Obama-era auto emissions regulations, while also monitoring the Boeing 737 Max’s return to the skies following safety concerns.

“Good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American Dream, getting people and goods to where they need to be,” Buttigieg said. “But I also recognize that at their worst, 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.”

“So much is at stake today,” he said.

Biden also wants to immediately mandate mask-wearing on airplanes and public transportation systems to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and Buttigieg made clear that would be a first priority at the department.

“We must ensure all of our transportation systems — from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways, and pipelines — are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus,” he said.

Still, it’s Biden’s infrastructure plan, the full details of which are expected to be released next month, that is likely to draw heavy attention and pose the biggest challenges, such as cost. Biden has yet to specify how he intends to pay for new infrastructure spending.

Beyond standard transportation fixes, which are easier to promise than for administrations to get through Congress, Biden wants to rejuvenate the post-coronavirus pandemic economy and create thousands of green jobs by making environmentally friendly retrofits and public works improvements.

In his prepared remarks to the committee, Buttigieg pointed to his past experience as a veteran of the Afghanistan war as well as city mayor as valuable in taking a ground level approach to improving transportation.

He described initiating a “smart streets” program to make South Bend’s downtown more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly while spurring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investment.

“I worked with regional and state partners — and across the aisle — to support enhancements to our inter-city train system and our now-international airport, and we pioneered public-private partnerships,” he said. “We achieved results by bringing people in, engaging stakeholders and residents, prioritizing limited funds effectively, and unlocking new resources to solve problems.”

“That’s how I will approach the Department of Transportation, if confirmed,” Buttigieg said.

During his four years in the White House, Trump’s administration often held “Infrastructure Week” events and touted transportation improvements.

But it was not able to push Congress to pass any broad plan to update the nation’s roads and bridges, rails and airports.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1380370

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1534461574
Cuyahoga1354332341
Hamilton984041326
Montgomery677001161
Summit566391051
Lucas51349869
Butler47858663
Stark42048983
Lorain31922539
Warren30328338
Mahoning27315643
Clermont25897297
Lake24746422
Delaware22501147
Licking20701246
Fairfield20658223
Greene20527275
Trumbull20127516
Medina20006290
Clark18086332
Richland16602236
Portage16305231
Wood15869209
Allen14257261
Miami13963261
Muskingum12858155
Wayne12126244
Columbiana11896242
Tuscarawas11103271
Marion10865150
Pickaway10580129
Scioto10477127
Erie9822171
Ross9566177
Lawrence8886125
Hancock8567143
Ashtabula8423187
Geauga8226156
Belmont8221188
Jefferson7635175
Huron7507131
Union740751
Washington7334126
Athens705965
Sandusky6925135
Darke6853137
Knox6762122
Seneca6496137
Ashland6035115
Auglaize593188
Shelby5796104
Brown572972
Mercer563690
Defiance5538101
Crawford5530117
Madison549371
Highland548082
Fulton539583
Clinton532081
Logan516987
Preble5058111
Putnam4876107
Guernsey480664
Williams466482
Perry459054
Champaign452264
Ottawa441384
Jackson432963
Pike397045
Morrow393851
Coshocton386669
Fayette381753
Adams366875
Hardin363970
Gallia352858
Holmes3297111
Henry328869
Van Wert318871
Hocking308070
Wyandot284558
Carroll265452
Paulding245143
Meigs220242
Monroe191949
Noble172942
Morgan169429
Harrison160041
Vinton140619
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Angola
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Mostly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Showers Saturday morning with breezy and drier conditions by the afternoon.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events