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Confirmation process begins for Pete Buttigieg

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 4:41 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WNDU) - On Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg marked his 39th birthday.

On Wednesday he appeared on the Tonight Show.

On Thursday, he was the subject of a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“So much is at stake today and so much is possible as our country works to emerge from the crisis of this moment with bi-partisan appetite for a generational opportunity to transform and improve America’s infrastructure,” the nominee for Transportation Secretary told committee members this morning. “So, the chance to lead this department at this historic moment is not one that I take lightly and if confirmed I promise to bring the same sense of duty and commitment that led me to serve my hometown as mayor, and motivated me to serve my country in the Navy reserve.”

Buttigieg began by introducing his husband Chasten to the panel and praising him for his sacrifices and support.

Buttigieg was introduced to the committee in bi-partisan fashion by Indiana Senator Todd Young—a Republican who called Buttigieg a respected colleague.

Today’s hearing was largely non-contentious with a few exceptions. At one point, Senator Ted Cruz mentioned the Biden administration’s decision to halt work on the Keystone Pipeline: “And with the stroke of a pen President Biden has told those 11,000 workers, those union workers, your jobs are gone. Mr. Buttigieg, what do you say to those workers whose jobs have just been eliminated by presidential edict?”

Buttigieg responded with: “Well, I think the most important thing is to make sure that we make good on the promises the President’s climate vision being one that on net, creates far more jobs, millions we hope. I know that won’t just happen. We’ll have to do a lot of work to make sure that’s real, but getting this right means ensuring that there are more good paying union jobs for all Americans.”

Senator Rick Scott, (R) Florida asked Buttigieg about infrastructure funding. “The highway trust fund doesn’t have enough funding going forward. Would you support a gas tax increase and if so, how much?”

Buttigieg responded by saying all options need to be on the table. “As you know, the gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and it’s never been pegged to inflation. That’s the reason why the current state of the highway trust fund, there’s more going out than coming in. Up until now that’s been addressed with general funding transfers. I don’t know whether congress would want to continue doing that. I think in the near term we need a solution that can provide some predictability and sustainability. In the long term, bear in mind also that as vehicles become more efficient and as we pursue electrification, sooner or later there will be questions about whether the gas tax will be effective at all.”

Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana said that Buttigieg was putting on a clinic on how nominees were supposed to act. “You haven’t avoided the question. You’ve been straight forward, and you know what the hell you’re talking about and that’s really pretty damn impressive.”

Buttigieg is one of two cabinet nominees with a mayoral background. The other is Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who is awaiting confirmation as Labor Secretary.

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