Senate Confirms Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate panel holds hearing for transportation nominee
Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay man to head the Department of Transportation.
Reuters/Stefani Reynolds

Mayor Pete is now Secretary Pete.

The US Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary on February 2, making him the nation’s first out gay cabinet member to be confirmed.

With out bisexual US Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona announcing the vote, the 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana was approved by a 86-13 margin. One legislator abstained from voting during the session.
In a statement on Twitter, Buttigieg, a former presidential candidate, said he was “honored” and “humbled” by the Senate’s confirmation. All Democrats voted in favor of Buttigieg’s confirmation, while a majority of Republicans voted against him.

The “no” votes included Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.

This historic confirmation came nearly two weeks after the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved Buttigieg’s nomination for the position. In December, then-President-Elect Joe Biden announced Buttigieg as a nominee for the Department of Transportation (DOT)

LGBTQ organizations and politicians are welcoming Biden’s confirmation. The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national group that works to elect out queer candidates, posted “representation matters” alongside a video of Buttigieg helping a nine-year-old boy come out as gay during a rally.

The Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus also heaped praise on the new transportation secretary. Equality Caucus Chair David Cicilline, who represents Rhode Island and formerly served as the mayor of Providence, described Buttigieg as a competent leader who is prepared to take on the new role.

“I am proud to congratulate Mayor Pete Buttigieg on his confirmation by the Senate to serve as secretary of transportation,” Cicilline said in a written statement. “As a former mayor, he is incredibly well-qualified to serve in this role and help rebuild our country’s bridges, roads, rail lines, and waterways. As the first openly LGBTQ person to be confirmed for a position in the Cabinet, he will remain a visible role model for young LGBTQ people in our country. This is important progress for America and a very proud day for our community.”

On a more local level, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan gave a shout-out to Buttigieg and invited him to help bolster the city’s subway system.

“Pete Buttigieg is now officially the first openly gay person in American history to be confirmed by the Senate to a cabinet-level position,” Hoylman wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Congrats Secretary Pete. Let me know if you need any help improving the subways.

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David also applauded the new transportation secretary.

“Congratulations Secretary Buttigieg on this historic confirmation,” David said in a statement on Twitter. “Thank you for breaking through a barrier that has existed for too long. In doing so, you encourage every young LGBTQ person to see their future — and their service — as essential to our democracy.”

Buttigieg joins several prominent LGBTQ officials on Biden’s new team, including Gautam Raghavan, an out gay Indian-American man who is the deputy director for the Office of Presidential Personnel, and Karine Jean-Pierre, who serves as White House principal deputy press secretary.

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