My1sttoday: Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. The Senate voted 86-13 to approve Buttigieg’s nomination. He is the 19th Transportation secretary and the fifth member of President Biden’s Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. He is also the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member in U.S. history.
He is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a Navy veteran. He ran against Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary before dropping out of the race and throwing his support to the now-president.
Senators who voted against Buttigieg’s nomination were Republicans Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), and James Lankford (Okla.).
The Senate already confirmed Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The Senate Commerce Committee advanced Buttigieg’s nomination last week through a broad bipartisan vote, with only three Republican senators voting against it.
He is set to take over an agency overseeing an industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has also emphasized the need for a bold infrastructure package, which Buttigieg has highlighted.
The former mayor defended Biden’s executive order to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline when questioned earlier this month. He also walked back comments that left the door open to raising the gas tax to fund the Highway Trust Fund; a spokesperson said after the hearing that increasing the gas tax is not an option.
Transportation industry trade groups like the Airport Council and the Air Line Pilots Association applauded his confirmation on Tuesday and unions, including the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and AFSCME, also welcomed him into his new role.
Buttigieg has quipped that he would be the second-biggest Amtrak enthusiast in the administration. Biden is an outspoken advocate for Amtrak and would regularly commute between Delaware on Washington, D.C., by train when he was a senator.
When Biden formally introduced Buttigieg as his nominee for Transportation secretary in December, he called him “one of the smartest people you will ever meet.”
Buttigieg is set to be the only millennial to serve in Biden’s Cabinet.
The Human Rights Campaign applauded Buttigieg’s historic nomination as the first openly LGBTQ Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary.