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Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

  • If confirmed, Buttigieg will be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary.

Between the lines: Buttigieg, 39, who faced off against Biden in the crowded Democratic presidential primary before throwing his support behind the now-president, has been reaching out to senators in both parties emphasizing his small-town roots.

  • His background as former mayor of South Bend, Ind., (pop. 102,000) could give him common ground with midwestern Republicans.

What they're saying: "When I took office as the mayor of South Bend--a city that was built by the power of American transportation--we had been hit so hard by economic loss that some in the national press listed us as one of America’s 'dying cities,'" Buttigieg says in his prepared remarks.

  • "As our city fought its way out of the teeth of the Great Recession, infrastructure was at the heart of our vision for a better future."
  • "Good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American Dream, getting people and goods to where they need to be, directly and indirectly creating good-paying jobs."
  • He'll also say that "misguided policies and missed opportunities in transportation can reinforce racial and economic inequality, by dividing or isolating neighborhoods and undermining government’s basic role of empowering Americans to thrive."

Read the full statement.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New Energy Department roles look to animate Biden's campaign themes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."