Buttigieg goes through Day One of Confirmation hearings for Cabinet position
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg took questions from Senators in his first confirmation hearing Thursday. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation held the hearing. Senators asked Buttigieg how he planned to fund the Federal Department of Transportation, what his goals are in running it and how he would stay in the know about projects at the state and local levels. By the end of the hearing, Buttigieg had bi-partisan support from the committee. Senator Jon Lester, a Democrat from Montana even told Buttigieg he put on a "clinic" with the answers he gave and hoped Joe Biden's other nominees would "take note" of Buttigieg's performance, but not every committee member was ready to support Buttigieg as transportation secretary.
"If confirmed, you'd consider repealing that rule and stopping the transportation of LNG (liquified natural gas) by rail?" said Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
"The best, honest answer I can give you now is I'll be taking a hard look at it," Buttigieg said in response.
"Well, that's disconcerting, as well," Cruz said back.
Senator Cruz said the transportation of LNG by rail was helping the economy and the environment. Buttigieg said he'd consider putting a stop to it if there were a less dangerous method of transportation.
Committee members invited Buttigieg to visit their states to see what kind of help their infrastructure, airports, bridges and roads all need. As a result, Buttigieg wound up accepting invites to Massachusetts, Alaska, Montana and his home state of Indiana. Buttigieg said his number one priority were he to run the Department of Transportation (DOT) would be safety.
"First and foremost, I want you to know that if confirmed, I will work every day to make sure the department meets its mission of ensuring safety," Buttigieg said. "Safety, both for travelers and for workers, and I look forward to working closely with Congress to do so."
Among other promises Buttigieg made was his support of President Biden's canceling of the Keystone Pipeline project, something else Senator Cruz grilled him on.
"Mr. Buttigieg, what do you say to those workers whose jobs have just been eliminated by Presidential edict?" Cruz said.
"Well, I think the most important thing is to make sure that we make good on the promise of the President's climate vision as being one that, on net, creates far more jobs, millions, we hope," Buttigieg responded. "I know that won't just happen we'll have to do a lot of work to make sure that's real."
If confirmed, Pete Buttigieg, who introduced and thanked his husband Chasten, before fielding questions, would be the first LGBTQ Community member to hold a presidential cabinet position. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation did not say when it plans to vote on Buttigieg's confirmation, but it is scheduled to meet again on January 26th. Indiana Senator Todd Young and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, both Republicans, voiced their support for Buttigieg's confirmation. They along with the Democrats on the committee gave Buttigieg bipartisan support.