‘A new voice’: Biden introduces Pete Buttigieg as candidate for Transportation Secretary – National


US President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday introduced former Democratic rival Pete Buttigieg as a candidate for transport secretary, saying the 38-year-old could be “a new voice” in the fight against economic inequality, the institutional racism and climate change.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is said to be the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate to a Cabinet position. Biden hailed this milestone, saying that by the time he’s finished filling the top positions in his new administration, there will be more women and people of color than ever before, including “a cabinet that opens gates and breaks down barriers, and accesses all brains. and the talent of which we have so much.

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Biden said Buttigieg offers “a new voice with new ideas determined to go beyond the old politics. “

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“We need someone who knows how to work with state, local and federal agencies,” Biden said, noting that the highways are in bad shape and some bridges “are on the verge of collapsing”.

Beyond standard transportation fixes, which are easier to promise than for administrations to cross Congress, Biden wants to rejuvenate the post-pandemic coronavirus economy and create thousands of green jobs by making eco-friendly renovations. environment and improvements to public works.

The president-elect noted that much of the country, including its home state of Delaware, faces the risk of sea-level rise. A more immediate challenge, however, will be upholding the mandate of wearing a mask promised by Biden for planes and public transportation systems to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“At its best, transportation makes the American Dream possible, getting people and goods where they need to be, directly and indirectly creating high-paying jobs,” Buttigieg said. “At worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic and environmental injustice, divide or isolate neighborhoods, undermining the fundamental role of government in empowering everyone to prosper.

Buttigieg mentioned his affinity for trains while acknowledging that he would only be the “second biggest” Amtrak enthusiast in the administration, given that Biden rode the rails for years between Washington and Wilmington, Delaware. , while serving in the Senate.

Buttigieg also mentioned that he proposed to her husband, Chasten, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

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Buttigieg was the Cabinet’s only choice, after Biden’s Defense Secretary candidate, retired General Lloyd Austin, to appear in a solo announcement ceremony rather than being presented with other choices . Vice President-elect Kamala Harris joined by video conference from Washington due to a snowstorm.

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US election: President-elect Joe Biden appoints Pete Buttigieg as transport secretary

US election: President-elect Joe Biden appoints Pete Buttigieg as transport secretary

Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Buttigieg was “more than ready to finally solve our nation’s infrastructure crisis.” Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Applauded Biden for tapping someone with “a lot of intellect, vision and motivation” to try to modernize America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Others weren’t so happy.

“I don’t know him at all,” Maine Senator Susan Collins, a pivotal Republican in the tightly divided Senate, told reporters in Washington. Instead, she referred to Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago and chief of staff to President Barack Obama. Emanuel has been mentioned as a potential candidate for several Cabinet positions in Biden, but has drawn a strong backlash from progressives.

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“I think Rahm Emanuel would have been a strong choice,” Collins said.

As Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg talked about how they knew each other during the contested Democratic primary, it was easy to imagine the 2024 campaign starting to take shape as the Cabinet was introduced. Biden, 78, said he sees himself as a bridge to a new generation of leaders like Buttigieg.

If Biden chooses not to run again in 2024, Harris would be his political heir. But that may not stop Buttigieg and other emerging Democrats from launching into the main challenges.

Buttigieg praised Harris for his “innovative leadership and friendship,” and Harris used virtually the same language, calling Buttigieg a “pioneering leader.”

During the primary, Buttigieg was first struck off as the leader of a small town competing with much more established figures. But he focused on a generational change message to end Iowa’s first caucuses in a virtual tie-up with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

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Buttigieg’s campaign has stumbled, however, in attracting black voters who play a vital role in Democratic politics. As the primary settles in more diverse states such as South Carolina, Buttigieg faltered and quickly withdrew from the race. His relatively early support for Biden ushered in a remarkably rapid unification of the party around its ultimate candidate.

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In the primary, Biden shone with Buttigieg, who he said reminded him of his late son, Beau Biden, a former Delaware attorney general who had urged his father to run for the White House. Beau Biden passed away in 2015.

Biden’s selection of Buttigieg as transportation secretary drew praise from LGBTQ rights groups.

“His impact will reverberate far beyond the department he leads,” added Annise Parker, President and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute.

But Black Lives Matter’s South Bend chapter denounced the nomination. The group had made known their displeasure to Buttigieg during his presidential campaign, following the South Bend shooting in 2019 on a black man by a white police officer.

“We have seen black communities see their homes demolished by his administration,” Jorden Giger, BLM leader in South Bend, said in a statement, referring to Buttigieg’s efforts to demolish substandard housing. “We have seen the cogs of his police turn against blacks.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press


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