President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg addressed the Detroit Auto Show Wednesday to boast about their infrastructure policies, even as a massive rail strike looms that could shut down freight and some passenger traffic.
It's so good to be in the Motor City for the North American Auto Show to see American manufacturing and innovation at work to bring us a cleaner, safer future on our roadways and more good-paying US jobs. pic.twitter.com/21oAlgcr8w
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) September 14, 2022
As the Washington Post reported:
The impasse is tied to disagreements between management and labor over sick time and penalties for missing work, a politically challenging stalemate for President Biden, who aims to advocate for union workers but has prioritized untangling the nation’s besieged infrastructure in the covid era.
Biden, who adopted the nickname “Amtrak Joe” due to his penchant for commuting on the (expensive) Amtrak Acela train from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to the Senate in Washington, DC, appeared alongside other Democratic politicians to boost electric vehicles (EVs), which the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” encourages American drivers to purchase.
Buttigieg’s presence alongside Biden was touted ahead of the event, though Buttigieg’s portfolio means he is responsible for the nation’s rail network, which last experienced a strike 30 years ago, during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
— Corp! Magazine (@CorpMagazine) September 14, 2022
The task of negotiating to avoid a strike is being handled by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, the Wall Street Journal noted.
The Detroit News also noted that Buttigieg, formerly the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, might have local political ambitions:
It will be Buttigieg’s third visit to Michigan this year. In July, he visited Grand Rapids to highlight a project at Gerald Ford International Airport and in May he visited the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.
Buttigieg and his husband Chasten officially made Michigan their home earlier this year, settling near Traverse City where Chasten grew up. Political analysts say the move could set up Buttigieg to run for statewide office in Michigan.
The announcement also comes the day after the co-chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, Meshawn Maddock, called Buttigieg — the first openly gay U.S. Cabinet secretary and a former officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve — a “weak little girl.” It drew immediate criticism from state Democrats and several Republicans.