Pete Buttigieg confirmed as transportation secretary, becomes the US's first openly gay Cabinet secretary

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Pete Buttigieg confirmed as transportation secretary, becomes the US's first openly gay Cabinet secretary
Pete Buttigieg.STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary.
  • The move makes Buttigieg the first openly gay Cabinet secretary.
  • Buttigieg ran in the 2020 presidential race and served as mayor of his hometown.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, making him the country's first ever openly gay Cabinet secretary.

The historic confirmation went through with bipartisan support in a 86-13 vote. President Joe Biden had picked the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in December to lead the Department of Transportation, which oversees federal transportation projects and transportation safety regulations across the US.

"Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT, the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better," Biden said at the time. "I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision - he will bring people together to get big things done."

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In his nomination hearing last month, Buttigieg vowed that as head of the agency he would deliver new jobs in infrastructure and transportation and focus on building the economy and tackling climate change issues.

Buttigieg catapulted to the national spotlight during his run for the 2020 presidency as a young moderate from the Midwest. The 39-year-old US veteran appeared to be a leading candidate after narrowly winning the Iowa caucus in February 2020, yet his path to the Democratic nomination fizzled out soon afterward. By March, he suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden.

But Buttigieg didn't fall off the radar after his meteoric rise, and he's poised to remain an influential figure within the Democratic Party.

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Biden had spoken highly of Buttigieg after he dropped out, and compared the former candidate to his late son, Beau Biden.

"I know that may not mean much to most people, but to me, it's the highest compliment I can give to any man or woman," Biden said in March 2020. "Like Beau, he has a backbone like a ramrod."

Buttigieg had made history as the first openly gay candidate to run for the highest office in the nation, a significant stride for the LGBTQ community. On the campaign trail, he had frequently opened up about his close relationship with his husband, Chasten.

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After his confirmation, "Mayor Pete" has been receiving praises as "Secretary Pete."

"Another barrier broken for our community," the nonprofit Human Rights Watch tweeted on Tuesday.

Richard Grenell became the first openly gay person to serve in a Cabinet-level position under the Trump administration as acting Director of National Intelligence. He served from February 2020 to May 2020, but was never confirmed by the Senate as permanent head of the agency.

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John L. Dorman contributed to this report.

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