Buttigieg defends Biden decision to block Keystone XL Pipeline despite loss of union jobs
Transportation Secretary nominee Mayor Pete Buttigieg takes questions at his confirmation hearing.
The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as President Biden’s Transportation Secretary Tuesday in bipartisan fashion, but not entirely without GOP dissent.
Buttigieg was confirmed to 87-13, but Republican grumblings focused on Buttigieg’s lack of experience and progressive ideas. Buttigieg will now be responsible for pushing forward a sweeping $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan.
Here are the 13 GOP senators who voted against confirming Buttigieg:
Marsha Blackburn, Tenn.
Bill Cassidy, La.
Tom Cotton, Ark.
Ted Cruz, Texas
Bill Hagerty, Tenn.
Josh Hawley, Mo.
Jim Lankford, Okla.
Roger Marshall, Kan.
Marco Rubio, Fla.
Tim Scott, S.C.
Rick Scott, Fla.
Richard Shelby, Ala.
Tommy Tuberville, Ala.
In nominating the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, President Biden said Buttigieg, 39, reminds him of his late son, Beau, and praised his former 2020 Democratic rival as “a new voice with new ideas.”
A spokesperson for Cruz told Fox News that the Texas Republican voted against Buttigieg because he is “in lockstep” with Biden’s “radical energy policy.”
“As Sen. Cruz told Mr. Buttigieg at his confirmation hearing, that agenda is altogether out of step with what the American people want. That – along with Mr. Buttigieg’s lack of experience on most transportation issues – is why Sen. Cruz opposed his confirmation,” the spokesperson said.
BUTTIGIEG FLOATS GAS TAX HIKE DESPITE CONCERN ABOUT REGRESSIVE IMPACT
Cruz, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., were the only three to oppose voting Buttigieg out of the Senate Commerce Committee last week.
Blackburn said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Buttigieg had signaled during committee hearings that he would “put the administration’s environmental goals ahead of some very basic changes to federal policy that would lighten regulatory load on county and city mayors trying to get transportation projects off the ground.”
During his confirmation hearing, Buttigieg left the door open to raising the federal gas tax to pay for repairs to America’s crumbling roadways, pledged to help put in place new federal automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and defended Biden for revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit, saying job losses will be offset by creating new green jobs.
Scott tweeted Tuesday that he couldn’t support Buttigieg because he was willing to raise the gas tax “to support government’s wasteful spending.”
“It’s no secret that America is in need of significant investment in infrastructure projects, especially for our rural roads, bridges, and broadband internet,” Tuberville, who also voted against the new transportation head, said to Fox News in a statement. “I’m concerned Buttigieg would prioritize urban areas over the very real needs of our rural communities, and his insistence on solely promoting ‘green’ initiatives will put hard-working Alabamians and Americans in the energy sector out of work.”
Biden had made rebuilding U.S. infrastructure in a green fashion a top priority for his administration. Biden’s climate and infrastructure plan focuses on rebuilding roads and bridges and expanding zero-emission mass transit while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure, including building 500,000 charging stations over the next decade.
Buttigieg said he wants to work with lawmakers in a bipartisan fashion to usher in new plans for updating the nation’s roads, bridges, rails and airports.
Before becoming mayor of South Bend at age 29, Buttigieg graduated from Harvard College and Oxford University and was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the incoming chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said that Buttigieg had demonstrated a deep understanding of transportation issues in his hearing.
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“As someone who had served our country, as a United States Navy reservist, including deployment in Afghanistan, he also, as a Rhodes Scholar, showed impressive understanding of the future of our transportation policies and the major changes that they are going through,” she said.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.
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