Politics

Joe Biden chooses Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary

President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday he had elected former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary.

"South Bend was once referred to as one of America's 'dying cities.' Today it is a center for innovation and job growth. Mayor Pete Buttigieg spearheaded this resurgence and was nominated by the president-elect to continue this work as Secretary of Transportation," said the Biden -Harris Presidential Transition Team on Twitter.

Buttigieg, who opposed Biden in the 2020 primary, is expected to play a central role in the new president's plans to restore and repair roads and bridges in the US.

"This is a moment of tremendous opportunity – creating jobs, meeting the climate challenge and improving justice for all," Buttigieg tweeted. "I am honored that the President-elect asked me to serve as Secretary of Transportation for our nation."

The president-elect has stated for months that smart, climate-friendly infrastructure projects can help the US emerge stronger from the coronavirus recession and support thousands of jobs.

The 38-year-old Buttigieg quickly became a household name in the 2020 elections as the younger but still moderate option for Democrats looking to prevent President Donald Trump from going back in office.

Although Buttigieg was eliminated from the race in March 2020 despite winning in Iowa, the openly gay politician soon approved Biden as president.

The president-elect has often lauded Buttigieg as a symbol for the next generation of Democrats and was widely expected to be appointed to a high-level administrative office.

"Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a patriot and problem solver who speaks to the best we are as a nation. I am nominating him to Secretary of Transportation because that position relates to so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us "said Biden in a statement. "Jobs, infrastructure, justice and climate all come together in the DOT, the location of some of our most ambitious plans for better rebuilding. I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency and a bold vision – that is what he will bring people together to big things to do. "

A Biden business ally told CNBC that Buttigieg could have a huge impact on the government's infrastructure proposal as it was not tied to the stagnant talks in Congress about paying for such a plan.

"He's not hampered by the restrictions on Capitol Hill," the person said. I "haven't spoken to him yet, but I'll be sure when it happens."

This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.

Among the many proposals made by the Biden campaign was a $ 2 trillion plan that, coupled with its climate goals, would "build new American infrastructure and a clean energy economy."

The expansive plan includes more general investments in roads and bridges, as well as more specific proposals like providing high-quality, zero-emission public transportation to any American city of 100,000 or more.

Buttigieg, a military veteran, is perhaps best known in politics for his two terms as Mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020.

During his tenure, the city embarked on extensive urban development and revitalization projects similar to those that Biden campaigned to revitalize American infrastructure.

Critics of his time as mayor said his revitalization plans for South Bend did not necessarily have helped racist minorities as much as hoped.

For example, many were optimistic about his plans to demolish or repair almost all of the city's vacant houses, a demanding initiative that experts believed was impossible. The program focused on the city's low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where homes were in disrepair.

And while many said they were glad that derelict structures were removed, they complained about a lack of planning of what would fill the space.

– CNBC's Brian Schwartz contributed to the coverage.

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