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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.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation board

Buffett and Bill Gates in 2015. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the second-largest philanthropy in the world — is now governed by just two trustees, after Warren Buffett announced on Wednesday that he had resigned his position there.

Why it matters: The two remaining trustees, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, are going through a divorce.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.K. denies Russia fired warning shots at destroyer in Black Sea

The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."