Pete Buttigieg tears up paying heartfelt tribute to husband Chasten during historic cabinet confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg and Chasten Buttigieg, both wearing suits, walk through the doors in the Senate

Pete Buttigieg teared up at his history-making confirmation hearing Thursday morning (21 January) as lawmakers scrutinised his nomination as transport secretary.

Facing the 26 members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, he paid tribute to his husband Chasten, sat only a few feet behind him, according to ABC News.

Saying words no cabinet nominee has ever said before in their opening statement, Buttigieg said: “I wanna thank president Biden for trusting me with this nomination, and I’d like to take a moment to introduce my husband, Chasten Buttigieg, who is here with me today.”

The 39-year-old turned back behind him to look at Chasten who nodded in support: “I am proud to have him by my side.

“I want to thank him for his many sacrifices and his support in making it possible for me to pursue public service,” he said as he testified in front of the legislative panel, putting him on the path to becoming the first openly gay, Senate-confirmed cabinet secretary.

Buttigieg, considered by many to be a rising political star after his monumental bid to become nominated as the Democrat’s presidential candidate, is among the first of Biden’s cabinet picks appearing in front of the Democratic-led Senate house, which the party clinches just a narrow majority of.

Pete Buttigieg, once a pugnacious former rival, now key player in Joe Biden’s climate change plans

In leading the Department of Transportation, Buttigieg is expected to play a critical part in pushing Biden‘s progressive agenda of restoring the country’s infrastructure and, crucially, fulfilling the president’s climate change promises – a plank of his pledges.

Buttigieg sought to stress to the Senate panel his past credentials as an Afghan war veteran as well as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, where he managed the so-called 500-year-old flooding of the local St Joseph River.

Senator Roy Blunt speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee hearing to examine the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation

Senator Roy Blunt speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee hearing to examine the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation. (Ken Cedeno-Pool/Getty Images)

With the agency’s authority on regulating vehicle emissions, Buttigieg will help implement Biden’s “100 per cent clean energy economy” promise, such as encouraging electric vehicles and boosting funding for mass transit, roads, pipes and schools – $1.3 trillion to be exact.

“We need to build our economy back, better than ever,” Buttigieg said in his prepared remarks.

“The Department of Transportation can play a central role in this, by implementing president Biden’s infrastructure vision creating millions of good-paying jobs, revitalising communities that have been left behind, enabling American small businesses, workers, families and farmers to compete and win in the global economy, and tackling the climate crisis.”

He added: “You have my commitment that I will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and growth that America needs in this area.”