Pete Buttigieg Vows to Fight Racial, Economic, Environmental Injustice in Department of Transportation

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 07: Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 07, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) promised to fight racial, economic, and environmental injustice as President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Transportation (DOT).

During his speech, he warned there was a dark side to the DOT.

“At it’s worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic, and environmental injustice, dividing or isolating neighborhoods,” he said, promising to work to deliver “equity” and “empower everyone to thrive.”

He also criticized President Donald Trump’s approach to infrastructure, promising to work so “the idea of an infrastructure week is associated with results and never again a media punchline.”

Buttigieg said that he was a transportation enthusiast, citing his love of riding on Amtrak trains, studying while traveling on a cargo ship, and proposing to his husband Chasten at the Chicago O’Hare airport.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare is not romantic,” he said.

Biden introduced Buttigieg as the “first openly gay nominee to lead a cabinet department” — an attempt to dodge the fact that Trump appointed Ric Grennell as the first openly gay cabinet member. (Grennell was Senate-confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Germany and later appointed by Trump to acting Director of National Intelligence).

Biden also bungled Chasten’s name in his speech, first referring to him as “Christian” before correcting himself.

Buttigieg said he grew up watching Republicans Congress blocking an openly gay ambassador nominee from serving under former President Bill Clinton.

“At the time I had no aspirations of being appointed by a president to anything,” he said, and added, “I was a long way from coming out, even to myself, but still, I watch that story and I learned something about some of the limits that exist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong.”


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