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Biden To Nominate Buttigieg As Secretary Of Transportation

If confirmed, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor would face a number of potentially future-defining aviation issues.

US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration Headquarters. Photo by JL Images/Shutterstock
US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration Headquarters. Photo by JL Images/Shutterstock

President-elect Joe Biden announced earlier this week that he would nominate former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg for Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg, who observers see as a progressive-leaning moderate, would replace current DOTSEC Elaine Chao, a conservative who is married to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY).

Chao presided over Transportation during the (ongoing) Boeing 737 Max crisis, the emergence of new transportation technologies from drones to electric cars and near- constant battles over aviation user fees for general aviation. It is still not known what Buttigieg’s (or Biden’s) views are on any of these things, or how his nomination will fare in the Senate, which will likely be in Republican control for the coming session of Congress.

Buttigieg, 38, is openly gay, and if confirmed by the Senate would be the first openly gay cabinet member. He is a Harvard graduate and Oxford scholar, after which he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy for three years, including a seven-month-long deployment in Afghanistan, where he worked in USN intelligence operations.

He was elected Mayor of South Bend in 2012 and served two terms, ending in January of 2020. He did not seek a third term, instead turning his attention to running for United States President, placing among the top five vote-getters in the Democratic primaries in which he ran. He withdrew from the race after Super Tuesday. He soon after endorsed Biden’s for the Democratic nomination.


His views on such issues in aviation as funding, user fees, urban air mobility, airport grant programs, FAA modernization efforts and aviation infrastructure planning will hopefully come into some kind of focus during his confirmation hearing in front of the senate.

One thing that Buttigieg would not do is name a new FAA administrator, at least not for a while, unless the current administrator, former F-15 fighter pilot, Delta airline pilot, airline executive Steve Dickson were to leave the job before his term expires. Dickson was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate on July 27, 2019, by a vote of 52-40. By law, the FAA Administrator serves a five-year term.


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