Pete Buttigieg is first Senate-confirmed openly gay cabinet secretary

Pete Buttigieg was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday to be President Joe Biden‘s Transportation secretary. 

Buttigieg received overwhelming bipartisan support – with a vote of 86 to 13 – to become the nation’s first openly gay Senate-confirmed cabinet secretary. 

He previously competed against Biden in last year’s Democratic primaries, winning the Iowa caucuses, but dropping out and throwing his support behind the former vice president before the Super Tuesday contests in early March.  

The Senate voted 86 to 13 to confirm Pete Buttigieg (pictured) as President Joe Biden's Transportation secretary on Tuesday. Buttigieg will be the country's first Senate-confirmed openly gay cabinet secretary

The Senate voted 86 to 13 to confirm Pete Buttigieg (pictured) as President Joe Biden's Transportation secretary on Tuesday. Buttigieg will be the country's first Senate-confirmed openly gay cabinet secretary

The Senate voted 86 to 13 to confirm Pete Buttigieg (pictured) as President Joe Biden’s Transportation secretary on Tuesday. Buttigieg will be the country’s first Senate-confirmed openly gay cabinet secretary 

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as President Joe Biden's Transportation secretary with a vote of 86-13

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as President Joe Biden's Transportation secretary with a vote of 86-13

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as President Joe Biden’s Transportation secretary with a vote of 86-13 

President-elect Joe Biden (right) announed his decision to make Pete Buttigieg (left) his Transportation secretary in mid-December, introducing Buttigieg at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware

President-elect Joe Biden (right) announed his decision to make Pete Buttigieg (left) his Transportation secretary in mid-December, introducing Buttigieg at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware

President-elect Joe Biden (right) announed his decision to make Pete Buttigieg (left) his Transportation secretary in mid-December, introducing Buttigieg at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware 

President Joe Biden (left) and now Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) competed against each other in last year's Demoratic primary and while Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses, he dropped out at backed Biden by early March before the Super Tuesday primaries

President Joe Biden (left) and now Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) competed against each other in last year's Demoratic primary and while Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses, he dropped out at backed Biden by early March before the Super Tuesday primaries

President Joe Biden (left) and now Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) competed against each other in last year’s Demoratic primary and while Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses, he dropped out at backed Biden by early March before the Super Tuesday primaries

A key ally to Biden’s campaign, who helped with now Vice President Kamala Harris’ debate prep, Buttigieg was reportedly being considered for a number of roles before Biden settled on Transportation head.   

In mid-December, when Biden announced Buttigieg as his DOT pick, the ex-mayor said he had a ‘personal love of transportation ever since childhood.’

‘More than once, as a college student, I would convince a friend to travel nearly a 1,000 miles back to Indiana with me on Amtrak,’ Buttigieg recalled. 

‘Though I know that in this administration I will be at best aspire to be the second biggest train enthusiast around,’ Buttigieg added, a reference to Biden’s reputation of being ‘Amtrak Joe.’ 

Buttigieg said, for him, that travel is ‘synonymous with growth, with adventure, even love.’

‘So much so that I proposed to my husband Chasten in an airport terminal,’ Buttigieg said. ‘So don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic,’ he added referring to Chicago’s bustling airport. 

Buttigieg, who turned 39 last month, also spoke about how his youth made him a barrier-breaker, noting that he’s the ‘first millennial invited to a seat at the table.’

He also said he hoped he would be an example to other LGBTQ Americans, recalling how he watched President Bill Clinton name the openly gay James Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999. 

Buttigieg said, at the time, he was years away from coming out – or thinking that a presidential appointment was something that could happen to him.

‘At that age, I was hoping to be an airline pilot,’ Buttigieg said. 

But he recalled how the appointment had been blocked by detractors in the Senate, though Clinton got it through using a rare recess appointment executive privilege. 

‘I watched that story and I learned something about some of the limits that exist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong, but just as important I saw how those limits can be challenged,’ Buttigieg said. 

‘I’m thinking about the message today’s announcement is sending,’ he added.   

Biden had pledged to have a cabinet of ‘barrier-breakers.’ 

Buttigieg appeared on Capitol Hill the day after Biden’s swearing-in for a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 

That panel approved Buttigieg’s nomination 21 to 3, setting up Tuesday’s floor vote.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previewed the vote earlier Tuesday by saying, ‘I’m excited to call him Secretary Pete by the end of the day.’ 

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, went by the nickname ‘Mayor Pete’ for much of his political career – in part because Buttigieg was difficult to pronounce.

Out of the gate, Buttigieg will be tasked with ensuring masking is taking place on public transportation, a Biden executive order to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

‘We are prepared to make sure that we use all relevant authorities to enforce the President’s executive order to ensure that across all modes of transportation, workers, passengers, commuters are protected,’ Buttigieg said during his January 21 confirmation hearing.  

Buttigieg also agreed to work with lawmakers on the long-stalled Gateway tunnel project, which would replace the crumbling Amtrak and commuter railroad tunnel between New York City and New Jersey. 

While former President Donald Trump was a native New Yorker, the project was held up under his watch. 

‘We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this, by implementing President Biden’s infrastructure vision,’ Buttigieg said in his opening remarks before the committee.

Under Trump another openly gay public servant, Richard Grenell, briefly held the cabinet-level position of Director of National Intelligence. 

The appointment was only temporary, so he wasn’t Senate-confirmed. 

Link hienalouca.com

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