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Biden Nominates Buttigieg for USDOT Secretary

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

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Last week, President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced that Biden has nominated Pete Buttigieg to serve as the 19th Secretary for the United States Department of Transportation.

“Buttigieg is a barrier-breaking and transformational public servant who embodies a new generation of American leadership,” the team wrote in a Dec. 15 press release.

About Buttigieg

Buttigieg was a 2020 presidential candidate and the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is the first openly gay major presidential candidate in American history, and one of the youngest ever to win a state primary or caucus.

First elected when he was only 29, the South Bend native worked inclusively and creatively to bring together public, private and community leaders to restore pride to South Bend and turn what was once known as a “dying city” into a hub of innovation and job growth. Buttigeig was South Bend’s 32nd mayor and served an eight-year term.

Gage Skidmore, CC-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced that Biden has nominated Pete Buttigieg to serve as the 19th Secretary for the United States Department of Transportation.

Additionally, Buttigeig was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, eventually earning the rank of Lieutenant. Buttigieg graduated from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

“Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation,” said Biden. “I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT, the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better. I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision—he will bring people together to get big things done.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris echoed Biden, saying that, “One of the most important parts of building America back better is ushering in a safe, modern, and sustainable transportation system that helps us grow our economy, tackle our climate crisis, and connect all Americans to jobs and opportunity.

"Mayor Pete Buttigieg is an outstanding choice to help spearhead this work. An innovative problem solver and trailblazing public servant, Mayor Pete is deeply committed to bringing people together and upgrading our transportation system in a way that serves Americans of all backgrounds and communities of every size — urban and rural — across our country.”

During his campaign, Buttigieg unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that pledged to direct federal funds to state and local governments to revitalize the nation’s transport networks, clean the water supply and expand the broadband internet. Specifically, the plan reforms the capital gains tax, repeals the 2017 GOP tax overhaul and raises estate tax, with a top rate of 65% for billionaires.

At the time, the plan was expected to create 6 million jobs and included the following:

  • $100 billion to establish a fund to address lead in water, paint and soil;
  • $150 billion to improve public transportation, including $100 billion for states and cities to repair existing systems and expand their rail and bus services, and $12 billion for rural public transit;
  • $80 billion to a school repair program, allocating grants and loans to states based on poverty levels;
  • $80 billion to expand internet access to unserved and underserved communities; and
  • $165 billion into the Highway Trust Fund to ensure its solvency through 2029.

"It would certainly be good to have a former mayor from a city like South Bend in the post," said Brian Turmail, Vice President of Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives for the Associated General Contractors of America. "He is in a unique position to understand how vital good transportation connections are to the success of local manufacturers, educational institutions and main street businesses."

Members from the American Society of Civil Engineers were also reported to be optimistic over its assessment of the new secretary.

"As a mayor, he has seen firsthand how infrastructure policy and investment impact families, businesses, local economy and quality of life," executive director Tom Smith said in a statement, noting that Buttigieg was the first presidential candidate to respond to an ASCE-sponsored infrastructure forum in February, offering detailed and tangible plans for modernizing the nation’s roads, bridges and water systems.

Next Steps

In taking the reins from USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, reports indicate that the new DOT chief is expected to pick up where an administration that worked on deregulation and collaborating with private companies left off.

These intentions can already be seen in the agency’s National Freight Strategic Plan, released in September, and in President Donald Trump's executive order waiving environmental regulations accelerated infrastructure projects, though Congress has not passed an infrastructure bill.

However, the new chief is also expected to inherit other long-standing issues and working through infrastructure initiatives with a divided Congress. Nevertheless, construction industry leaders are reportedly hopeful about opportunities nominated Buttigieg will have to offer.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Government; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Transportation

Comment from Mark Taylor, (12/22/2020, 8:52 AM)

"embodies a new generation of American leadership" = Doesn't know a single thing about infrastructure and transportation.... LOL. What a joke.

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (12/23/2020, 3:08 PM)

From Wikipedia article about current Secretary of Transportation: "As Secretary of Transportation, Chao appeared in at least a dozen interviews with her father, James, a shipping magnate with extensive business interests in China. Ethics experts said the appearances raised ethical concerns, as public officials are prohibited from using their office to profit others or themselves. Federal disclosures cited by The New York Times revealed a gift to Chao and her husband Mitch McConnell from Chao's businessman father James, valued at between US$5 million and $25 million. The company her father founded (and which her sister, Angela, currently runs), The Foremost Group, has extensive ties to the Chinese state and Chinese elites. It obtained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of loans from a bank owned by the Chinese state, has substantial interests tied to a major shipyard funded by and long-term contracts with a steel producer owned by the Chinese state. In what The Times described as "a rarity for foreigners", Angela and James Chao have served on the boards of a Chinese state-owned shipbuilder, and Angela has been on the board of the Bank of China, as well as the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (which was created by the government of China). From January 2018 to April 2019, 72% of the total tonnage shipped by Foremost was shipped to and from China. The Foremost Group has almost no footprint in the United States other than its headquarters in New York. During the period when Chao appeared with her father at promotional events for the family company, the US Department of Transportation repeatedly sought to cut funding and loan guarantees for domestic American shipping companies, shipyards, and shipbuilders. These proposed budget cuts were rejected by Congress in a bipartisan fashion. Chao's Department also sought for three years to prevent funding for a program that supports the viability of small domestic US shipyards, and a separate program that issues loan guarantees for the construction or reconstruction of ships with American registration."

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