U.S. Senate Confirms Buttigieg as DOT Secretary

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and past Presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 2, 2021 as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Senate voted 86 to 13 to confirm the nomination.

The now-Secretary’s nomination moved through the Chamber relatively quickly, with the Senate Commerce Committee holding a hearing on January 21, and then on January 27, 2021, approving it to move to the full Senate by a vote of 21 to 3.

During the nomination hearing, Senators asked Nominee-Buttigieg about a wide variety of subjects. These included question about fixing the Highway Trust Fund and how to pay for new infrastructure investments, 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 Hours after the hearing, the comments made in support of an increase in the federal gas tax were rescinded, and a spokesperson stated the federal gas tax is not one of the options that should be considered in paying for infrastructure needs.

As he settles into his role of leading DOT, the new Secretary’s experience and perspective will be key to a future surface transportation law, as the current Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires September 30, 2021. Additionally, Secretary Buttigieg will have an important role in any broad infrastructure package that may come together through Congress and the Biden Administration.

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.