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Buttigieg Sets Focus on Infrastructure

Thursday, January 28, 2021

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Last week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing regarding the nomination of President Joe Biden’s Transportation Secretary pick, Pete Buttigieg, where he outlined his infrastructure plans.

And yesterday (Jan. 27), the committee voted 21-3 to advance him to the full Senate vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

Buttigieg Nomination

In December, Biden’s transition team announced the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to serve as the 19th Secretary for the United States Department of Transportation.

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 to bring together public, private and community leaders to focus on innovation and job growth. Buttigeig was South Bend’s 32nd mayor and served an eight-year term.

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.

Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing regarding the nomination of President Joe Biden’s Transportation Secretary pick, Pete Buttigieg.

During his presidential 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 reformed 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.

DOT Hearing

According to reports, Buttigieg was received favorably by lawmakers from both parties as he outlined his vision for infrastructure reform should he be confirmed as transportation secretary. During the hearing, Buttigieg noted that there was a “generational opportunity” awaiting the nation’s infrastructure.

Specifically, he pointed to Biden’s goals on climate change, racial justice, job creation and pandemic recovery.

However, reports indicate that these tasks will not be easy as the new secretary will also have to adopt myriad measures upon taking office, including implementation of COVID-19 legislation as well as infrastructure investment, promoting transportation safety, further advancing transportation innovation, including autonomous vehicles and drones, and building upon U.S. transportation networks such as restoring Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast where it was halted after Hurricane Katrina some 15 years ago.

In response to these challenges and focusing on safety, Buttigieg voiced his plans, saying that, “We have to ensure that all of our transportation systems, our aviation and public transit, our railways, roads, ports, our waterways and pipelines, all of it is managed safely in this critical period as we work to defeat the virus for good. We also have a lot of work to do to improve the infrastructure in this country, a mission that will not only keep more people safe, it will grow our economy as we look to the future.

“As a mayor from the industrial midwest, I will bring a bottom-up perspective on transportation programs and funding. 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.”

In addition to the challenges the pandemic creates, Buttigieg also plans to integrate climate resilience, work with U.S. manufacturers to increase the rollout and take-up of electric vehicles, both personal and public transit, as well as expanding the network of charging stations, and pledged to make aviation manufacturing and safety a priority.

“The chance to lead this department at this historic moment is not one that I take lightly, and if confirmed, I promise to bring the same sense of duty and commitment that led me to serve my hometown as mayor and that motivated me to serve our country in the Navy Reserve,” Buttigieg concluded.

Regarding the funding necessary to make all of this possible, Senators noted the difficulties and questioned Buttigieg’s support on rising federal gas taxes. While not opposed nor committed to the idea, Buttigieg said that “all options need to be on the table” and that in the short term, a solution that could provide predictability and sustainability was needed.

In addition to Buttigieg, another city-level transportation official could be elected into the Department: New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has recently been nominated as Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

   

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

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