Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.
Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.
- If confirmed, Buttigieg will be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary.
Between the lines: Buttigieg, 39, who faced off against Biden in the crowded Democratic presidential primary before throwing his support behind the now-president, has been reaching out to senators in both parties emphasizing his small-town roots.
- His background as former mayor of South Bend, Ind., (pop. 102,000) could give him common ground with midwestern Republicans.
What they're saying: "When I took office as the mayor of South Bend--a city that was built by the power of American transportation--we had been hit so hard by economic loss that some in the national press listed us as one of America’s 'dying cities,'" Buttigieg says in his prepared remarks.
- "As our city fought its way out of the teeth of the Great Recession, infrastructure was at the heart of our vision for a better future."
- "Good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American Dream, getting people and goods to where they need to be, directly and indirectly creating good-paying jobs."
- He'll also say that "misguided policies and missed opportunities in transportation can reinforce racial and economic inequality, by dividing or isolating neighborhoods and undermining government’s basic role of empowering Americans to thrive."