Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg made history Tuesday, becoming the first openly gay man to win Senate confirmation to run a Cabinet department.
Buttigieg was easily confirmed as secretary of transportation by a vote of 86-13.
A former rival of President Biden’s for the Democratic presidential nomination, Buttigieg is at age 39 the youngest member of Biden’s Cabinet. He will take the reins at a sprawling agency, with jurisdiction over everything from federal highways to pipelines, air traffic and railroads, employing some 55,000 people.
The Department is also poised to play a major role in the new administration’s efforts to combat climate change. Biden has said his infrastructure improvement proposals would include the “second great railroad revolution,” and that he would seek funding “to build more climate-resilient communities to deal with more extreme floods, droughts and super storms.”
Buttigieg has become one of the most visible faces of the administration even before his confirmation, appearing on The Tonight Show, The View as well as other outlets.
When his nomination was announced, Buttigieg said he was “mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment,” saying he recalled as a 17-year-old seeing the news that one of then-President Bill Clinton’s intended nominees was denied a Senate vote because he was gay. During his confirmation hearing, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, sat behind him in the hearing room.