President-elect Joe Biden touted the diversity of his incoming administration as he introduced former rival Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday (December 16) as his choice for U.S. transportation secretary.
Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate if he is approved.
Appearing with Buttigieg in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said the 38-year-old would confront the task of upgrading America’s aging infrastructure.
“This cabinet will be the most representative of any cabinet in American history,” Biden said. “We’ll have more people of color than any cabinet ever, more women than any cabinet ever we will have a cabinet of barrier breakers,” he said.
Buttigieg’s nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, caps a political rise that saw him emerge from obscurity to mount a surprisingly robust campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination eventually won by Biden. A military veteran who served in Afghanistan, Buttigieg is in the vanguard of the next generation of Democratic politicians and is widely seen as a future presidential contender.
“I’m also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation,” Buttigieg said.
When Buttigieg ended his campaign and endorsed Biden in March, Biden offered him high praise, saying the Indiana native reminded him of his late son, Beau.
As transportation secretary, Buttigieg would oversee a sprawling federal agency that regulates the nation’s airlines, transit systems and interstate highways. Buttigieg would also play a central role in Biden’s proposed infrastructure and environmental initiatives, including plans to add 500,000 charging stations nationwide for electric vehicles.
The outline of Biden’s climate change team is growing clearer. Sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Biden intends to make Gina McCarthy, the former Environmental Protection Agency head, his domestic climate “czar” and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm his energy secretary.
Biden has methodically assembled his administration despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election. The Republican president has made unfounded claims of widespread fraud in the Nov. 3 election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a crucial Republican congressional supporter of Trump’s agenda, became the most senior member of his party to acknowledge Biden’s win on Tuesday (December 15), drawing the president’s ire.
Though Buttigieg is seen as a rising star within the party, some liberal groups and Black activists criticized him during the campaign for not doing enough as South Bend mayor to address racial inequality.
Biden and Harris also plan to meet virtually with U.S. state governors later on Wednesday.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)