The Senate in the US has confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, making him the first openly gay person, and the first Maltese-American to be confirmed to a Cabinet post, tasked with advancing President Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and fighting climate change.
Buttigieg, a 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, son of a Maltese immigrant, and Biden’s one-time rival during the Democratic presidential primaries, was approved on a 86-13 vote.
Mayor Pete has been praised by Biden as bringing a “new voice” to the administration. He will now take over a Transportation Department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions of dollars. In the last weeks, following his nomination, he has pledged to quickly get to work promoting safety and restoring consumer trust in America’s transportation networks as airlines, buses, city subway systems and Amtrak reel from plummeting ridership in the coronavirus pandemic.
He is expected to play an important role in promoting Biden’s sweeping green initiatives, helping to oversee stronger automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the president’s push later this year on a $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. That plan will be focused on rebuilding roads and bridges and expanding zero-emission mass transit while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure, including building 500,000 charging stations over the next decade.