Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Pete Buttigieg becomes first gay cabinet member confirmed by Senate in historic vote

As transportation secretary, former mayor is tasked with implementing ambitious Biden agenda

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 02 February 2021 19:25 GMT
Pete Buttigieg thanks husband Chasten during Senate confirmation hearing
Leer en Español

The Senate has overwhelmingly approved Pete Buttigieg’s nomination to be transportation secretary, making him the first openly gay person ever confirmed to a Cabinet post.

Mr Buttigieg is tasked with advancing Joe Biden’s broad agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, fight the climate crisis, and improve efficiency and safety in the transportation network.

His nomination was approved in a final vote in the full Senate on Tuesday with 86 votes in favour and 13 against.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the new president’s one-time rival in the Democratic presidential primaries, received bipartisan praise at his confirmation hearing last week. 

Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana effusively praised Mr Buttigieg for his preparation and the detailed policy knowledge he demonstrated: “You have put on a clinic on how a nominee should work and act.”

“I look forward to seeing Pete Buttigieg confirmed by the full Senate,” said Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the panel. “Transportation issues historically have been addressed on a bipartisan basis, and I expect to continue that practice with Mr Buttigieg.”

LGBT+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign hailed his confirmation as “another barrier broken for our community".

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce said his confirmation “further cements the Biden-Harris Administration as the most diverse and most pro-LGBTQ in American history”.

Former president Donald Trump’s acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell was also openly gay, but was never confirmed to his post by the Senate.

At his confirmation hearing Mr Buttigeg began his introductory statement by introducing his husband, Chasten, saying that he was proud to have him by his side and thanking him for "his many sacrifices and his support in making it possible for me to pursue public service". 

In testimony covering a wide range of transportation and infrastructure policy issues, Mr Buttigieg said that the administration’s ambitious agenda was a “generational opportunity” to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change. He also highlighted the importance of safety as the foundation of the department’s work.

“[There is] a lot of work to do to improve the infrastructure in this country, a mission that will not only keep more people safe, but also grow our economy as we look to the future,” the former mayor said.

Placing the Department of Transportation at the centre of this vision of infrastructure development laid out by the new president, Mr Buttigieg linked it directly to creating millions of well-paying jobs and revitalising communities that have been left behind.

Former presidential primary rival Senator Amy Klobuchar said: “I know you well, and I can attest to my colleagues what a forward-thinking and thoughtful secretary you will be.”

At 39, Mr Buttigieg is also one of the youngest cabinet members ever confirmed. He takes over a department with 55,000 employees and a budget of tens of billions of dollars.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in