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Praising Cabinet as one of "firsts," Biden announces Pete Buttigieg as pick to lead Transportation Department

Buttigieg named to lead Transportation Department
Biden announces Buttigieg as transportation secretary nominee 01:45

Washington — President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday formally introduced Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who competed against him for the Democratic presidential nomination, as his nominee to lead the Department of Transportation.

In remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, the president-elect praised the Cabinet he has assembled so far as one that is "historic" and composed of nominees who would break barriers with their confirmations, including Buttigieg, who is poised to be the first openly gay Senate-approved member of the Cabinet.

"By the end of this process, this Cabinet will be the most representative of any Cabinet in American history," Mr. Biden said. "We'll have more people of color than any Cabinet ever. We'll have more women than any Cabinet ever. We'll have a Cabinet of barrier-breakers. A Cabinet of firsts." 

The president-elect's transition team announced Tuesday that Mr. Biden tapped Buttigieg, 38, to helm the department, which is responsible for overseeing the nation's infrastructure. His nomination was lauded by LGBTQ groups for its historic nature.

"I got to know Pete on the campaign trail," the president-elect said. "He's one of the smartest people you'll ever meet and one of the most humble."

Mr. Biden praised Buttigieg as a "new voice with new ideas, determined to move past old politics."

President-Elect Biden Announces Pete Buttigieg As Transportation Secretary Nominee
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a news conference on December 16, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware, after President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination as secretary of transportation. KEVIN LAMARQUE / Getty Images

The Department of Transportation, the president-elect said, "services a critical mission with a critical responsibilities, particularly in this administration. We need someone who knows how to work with state, federal and local agencies."

The former mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city, with about 100,000 residents, Buttigieg skyrocketed to prominence during the Democratic presidential primaries. The youngest member in a vast field of candidates, he placed first in the Iowa caucuses and second in the New Hampshire primary. Buttigieg dropped out of the race before Super Tuesday and went on to endorse Mr. Biden.

If the Senate approves his nomination to lead the Transportation Department, Buttigieg will oversee an agency with nearly 55,000 employees nationwide and an annual budget of more than $85 billion. The president-elect has vowed to invest in "modern, sustainable infrastructure" and unveiled this summer a $2 trillion plan to build new infrastructure and boost clean energy, and Buttigieg would play a key role in executing that vision.

Since the November election, the president-elect has steadily rolled out a number of White House appointees and announced nominees who, if confirmed, will serve in his Cabinet. Several of his nominees, like Buttigieg, would be history-making — Janet Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Treasury, retired General Lloyd Austin would be the first Black secretary of Defense, and Alejandro Mayorkas would be the first Latino to serve as secretary of Homeland Security, for example.

"The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet, a Cabinet that looks like America, a Cabinet that taps into the best of America, a Cabinet that is opening doors and breaking down barriers and accessing the full range of talent, we have so much of it, the full range of talent in this nation," he said, noting the group includes nine "precedent-busting" appointments.

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