Senate Commerce Advances DOT Secretary Nominee Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and past Presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg was before the Senate Commerce Committee on January 21, as President Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Just one day after President Biden was inaugurated, Mayor Buttigieg faced a mostly friendly audience and responded to questions on a variety of subjects. Senators who participated in the hearing asked the Mayor about fixing the Highway Trust Fund and how to pay for new infrastructure investments, as well as his support for electric vehicles, continuing to streamline regulations and balancing environmental protections, drones, improving access to transportation for those with disabilities, aviation and transit safety, addressing COVID concerns in our transportation network, and the role of transportation in strengthening the economy.

During the hearing, Mayor Buttigieg expressed support for increasing the federal gas tax, which has not been raised since 1993. APWA supports an increase in the federal gas tax of twenty-five cents over 3 years, initially, and then transitioning to a more viable and long-term system such as a vehicle miles traveled mechanism. Hours after the hearing, the Mayor’s comments were rescinded, and a spokesperson stated the federal gas tax is not one of the options that should be considered in paying for infrastructure needs.

On January 27, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced the nomination of Mayor Buttigieg to be the next U.S. DOT Secretary by a vote of 21 to 3. Timing on a vote by the full Senate is not yet known, though Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he would like it to happen this week.

APWA’s policy priorities for the 117th Congress, including the Surface Transportation Reauthorization, are being distributed to all Congressional offices and Biden administration officials.

For any questions, please contact Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net. A recording of the nomination hearing may be viewed at Commerce.senate.gov.