WASHINGTON — Pete Buttigieg, the previous mayor of South Bend, Ind., will testify earlier than the Senate on Thursday for his affirmation listening to to turn out to be President Biden’s transportation secretary.
If confirmed, Mr. Buttigieg, 39, would turn out to be the primary overtly homosexual cupboard secretary to be confirmed by the Senate and the youngest member of Mr. Biden’s cupboard.
In his testimony earlier than the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Mr. Buttigieg is not going to deal with particular coverage proposals, and as a substitute will define a broad imaginative and prescient for his tenure, one centered on security, inexperienced infrastructure and investing in transportation overhaul to revive the economic system, in accordance to an advance copy of his remarks.
“We need to build our economy back, better than ever,” he’s anticipated to say. “The Department of Transportation can play a central role in this.”
Mr. Buttigieg’s supporters have mentioned his background might give Mr. Biden an efficient emissary who may help move large-scale modifications in infrastructure.
But his detractors have mentioned Mr. Buttigieg’s report on police practices and race relations — together with his firing of a Black police chief and his lack of ability to diversify South Bend’s overwhelmingly white police drive — coupled together with his comparatively skinny expertise with the specifics of transportation overhaul imply he has a lot to show.
Mr. Buttigieg mentioned that he would strive to use his position to assist maintain vacationers secure from the pandemic, whereas aligning the company’s initiatives with Mr. Biden’s targets of local weather change, racial justice and job creation.
“I think we have a big opportunity,” he mentioned in an interview performed by video earlier than his listening to. “I’m real excited about what we can do to really build up our infrastructure base in this country. There is no reason Americans should settle for less than our counterparts in other countries have.”
If confirmed, Mr. Buttigieg would take over an company with 55,000 workers and a price range of $87 billion at a time when the nation’s transportation techniques are reeling from the pandemic.
Mr. Biden has indicated that infrastructure overhaul will play a big position in the beginning of his administration. On his first day in workplace, he signed an government order requiring a masks mandate on all interstate journey and federal property. His $1.9 trillion coronavirus reduction bundle can also be slated to embody at least $20 billion for struggling public transportation techniques. He additionally desires to move an bold $2 trillion infrastructure plan that will require vital negotiation with Congress.
Mr. Biden — who has likened Mr. Buttigieg to his son Beau, who died in 2015 — believes Mr. Buttigieg can be integral in pushing the administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
“Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the D.O.T.,” Mr. Biden mentioned in saying Mr. Buttigieg as his nominee for transportation secretary. “I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency and a bold vision.”
Transit consultants mentioned Mr. Biden might use Mr. Buttigieg’s public stature, loyal following and media savvy to advance bold transportation modifications, which has turn out to be a perennial and up to now unachievable aim on Capitol Hill.
“He is a very good explainer of what he is seeking to do,” mentioned Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group. “And I think transportation could really use that right now.”
Mr. Buttigieg, who met with quite a few lawmakers after being nominated, has mentioned “there is such bipartisan energy for infrastructure” that he believes a deal will be performed, however that it’ll require vital work. “I think there’s a real chance to do something,” he mentioned. “I think the challenges come when it’s time to work out how we’re going to pay for it.”
As presidential candidate, Mr. Buttigieg launched a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that aimed to create six million jobs, stem the consequences of local weather change and bolster funding in transit, passenger rail and electrical automobiles whereas making an attempt to minimize the nation’s backlog of street repairs by half in 10 years.
As Mr. Biden’s nominee, Mr. Buttigieg has indicated that local weather change can be a spotlight for the division, by selling electrical automobiles to scale back greenhouse fuel emissions. He mentioned he would look to reverse decades-long transportation insurance policies which have led to limiting low-income people and minority residents entry to transportation.
Mr. Buttigieg wouldn’t step into the position with intensive expertise enacting federal transportation coverage. Mr. Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of transportation, Polly Trottenberg, led New York City’s transportation division for seven years.
During Mr. Buttigieg’s time as mayor, his signature transit achievement was a $25 million venture, known as Smart Streets, that transformed South Bend’s one-way roads into two-way streets with bike lanes and sidewalks to encourage foot site visitors and downtown business exercise.
Jeff Rea, the president of South Bend’s regional chamber of commerce, mentioned he was initially skeptical when Mr. Buttigieg put ahead the plan, however mentioned $180 million to $200 million in funding in the downtown space adopted, and he praised the mayor for his “data-driven” strategy to transportation overhaul.
But Jorden Giger, a founding father of the town’s Black Lives Matter chapter, mentioned Mr. Buttigieg’s downtown revitalization plan, together with a program to demolish or restore 1,000 of the town’s homes, had accelerated gentrification and contributed to lowered charges of minority homeownership.
Black leaders in South Bend have additionally criticized Mr. Buttigieg’s frosty relations with the neighborhood, and mentioned they had been apprehensive his lackluster report on supporting minority companies and appointing individuals of shade to employees positions would proceed.