The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, the first openly gay person to take a Cabinet post, per the AP. Buttigieg, a 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Biden’s one-time rival during the Democratic presidential primaries, was approved on a 86-13 vote. Praised by Biden as bringing a “new voice” to the administration, Buttigieg takes over a Transportation Department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions dollars. 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 also 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. “Transportation issues historically have been addressed on a bipartisan basis, and I expect to continue that practice with Mr. Buttigieg," said Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, who praised his “impressive credentials” and intellect. (One columnist thinks the post makes "perfect sense.")