Pete Buttigieg passes crucial first stage of Senate confirmation with overwhelming bipartisan support

Pete Buttigieg, nominee for US Transportation Secretary

Pete Buttigieg’s nomination as Joe Biden’s secretary of transportation has been backed by a Senate committee with resounding support.

The once-presidential candidate is expected to make history when the full Senate confirms him, becoming the first out LGBT+ person to hold a full-time cabinet position.

His confirmation got off to a good start on Wednesday (27 January) as the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to approve his nomination by a vote of 21 to three.

The former South Bend, Indiana mayor earned a significant amount of bipartisan support, with the committee currently comprised of 11 Democrats and 13 Republicans.

Republicans and Democrats praise Pete Buttigieg, while Ted Cruz sulks.

Republican senator Roger Wicker described Pete Buttigieg as an “impressive nominee”, praising his credentials and endorsement from Indiana’s conservative senators. He added: “Transportation issues historically have been addressed on a bipartisan basis, and I expect to continue that practice with Mr Buttigieg.”

Democratic ranking member Maria Cantwell formally put forward the nomination for a vote, citing Buttigieg’s experience in South Bend and as a war veteran.

Only three Republican senators cast votes against Buttigieg – Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn and Rick Scott, all of whom happen to be strong opponents of LGBT+ equality.

The nomination will now proceed to the Senate for a full vote later this week.

Pete Buttigieg, nominee for US Transportation Secretary

Pete Buttigieg, nominee for US Transportation Secretary (Getty/STEFANI REYNOLDS)

Buttigieg tweeted: “Thank you to the members of the @SenateCommerce Committee for their vote of confidence in me today. I look forward to working with @SenatorWicker, @SenatorCantwell and the rest of the committee as we get to work on infrastructure and building our economy back better.”

Pete Buttigieg paid tribute to his husband in appearance before committee.

Buttigieg acknowledged his husband in his appearance before the committee last week, telling the Senators: “I want to 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.

“I am proud to have him by my side. I want to take this chance to thank him for his many sacrifices and his support in making it possible for me to pursue public service.”

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 key plank of his pledges.

The role will put Buttigieg, a Democratic rising star with continued ambitions to seek high office, in charge of the department’s $72 billion budget and 58,000-strong workforce.