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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Biden plans to name Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his transportation secretary as early as today, tapping a former rival to help rebuild America's infrastructure, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By selecting Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for transportation, Biden will be nominating the first openly gay person for a Cabinet position.

  • Biden will also ensure that the 38-year-old Buttigieg, who rocketed to the front of the Democratic Party and won the most delegates in Iowa, plays a central role in his administration, as billions of dollars are expected to run through the Transportation Department if Biden passed his Build Back Better agenda.
  • Reuters was first to report on Biden's decision to tap Buttigieg.
  • The Biden transition declined to comment.

What they're saying: “Pete’s nomination is a new milestone in a decades-long effort to ensure LGBTQ people are represented throughout our government – and its impact will reverberate well-beyond the department he will lead," said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute.

  • "It's a good pick," former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican who served in Obama's Cabinet, told Axios. "It sends a loud message to mayors and to cities that they count. It's where the action is on putting people to work."
  • When Buttigieg endorsed Biden after the South Carolina primary, Biden said: "I don't think I've ever done this before, but he reminds me of my son Beau. I know that may not mean much to most people, but, to me, it's the highest compliment I can give any man or woman."

The big picture: Buttigieg had indicated to the Biden team that he was interested in serving as ambassador to the United Nations, but when that post went to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, some of his allies were concerned that he might be left out of the Cabinet.

  • Axios reported that Biden was considering him for a high-profile ambassadorship, including the post in China. Many of Buttigieg's allies, especially in the LGBTQ community, wanted him in the Cabinet and intensified their lobbying efforts in recent days.
  • During the Democratic campaign, Buttigieg wowed mostly white and educated audiences and narrowly bested Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucus before his campaign floundered in South Carolina, where the majority Black Democratic electorate largely rejected him.
  • His allies wanted him to use his time in the Biden administration to building relationships in the African American community, which he can now do if confirmed by the Senate to lead Transportation.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

Scoop: White House eyes vaccine mandate for migrants

A migrant receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Mexico before continuing to the U.S. border. Photo: Luis Barron/Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The White House is considering requiring migrants aged 5 and older to receive a coronavirus vaccination as a condition for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to await court hearings, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has been offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people in immigration detention centers or shelters but hasn't yet offered it to other migrants who've crossed the border — much less required it.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull — Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies— Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker