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Rabu, 16 Desember 2020

Joe Biden picks former rival Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary in 'historic' US Cabinet - ABC News

Pete Buttigieg says the "eyes of history" are upon president-elect Joe Biden's appointment of him as US transportation secretary.

Mr Buttigieg, the former mayor in South Bend, Indiana, would be the first openly gay cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate if he is approved.

"Travel, in my mind, is synonymous with growth, with adventure, even love. So much so that I proposed to my husband Chasten in an airport terminal," he said.

"I am also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation."

Mr Biden touted the diversity of his incoming administration as he introduced his former rival.

"The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be a historic Cabinet — a Cabinet that looks like America, a Cabinet that taps into the best of America, a Cabinet that is opening doors and breaking down barriers and accessing the full range of talent … in this nation," Mr Biden said.

"Our Cabinet doesn't just have one first or just two of these firsts, but eight precedent-busting appointments. And today a ninth —  the first-ever openly gay nominee to lead a cabinet department, and one of the youngest cabinet members ever."

Appearing with Mr Buttigieg in Delaware, Mr Biden said the 38-year-old would confront the task of restoring what he called "our crumbling roads, bridges and ports".

Mr Biden has proposed a massive boost in infrastructure spending.

Mr Buttigieg emerged from relative obscurity to mount a surprisingly robust campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination eventually won by Mr Biden.

Pete Buttigieg is seated behind Joe Biden as he speaks on stage
Mr Biden said Mr Buttigieg offers a new voice with new ideas to US politics.(AP: Kevin Lamarque)

A military veteran who served in Afghanistan, Mr Buttigieg is in the vanguard of the next generation of Democratic politicians and is widely seen as a future presidential contender.

As transportation secretary, Mr Buttigieg would oversee a sprawling federal agency that regulates the nation's airlines, transit systems and interstate highways.

Mr Buttigieg would also play a central role in Mr Biden's proposed infrastructure and environmental initiatives, including plans to add 500,000 charging stations nationwide for electric vehicles.

"Americans shouldn't settle for less than our peers in the developed world when it comes to our roads and bridges, our railways and transit systems. The US should lead the way, and I know that in this administration we will," Mr Buttigieg said.

Mr Biden also said Mr Buttigieg offers "a new voice with new ideas determined to move past old politics".

'I don't know him at all,' Republican says

Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio said Mr Buttigieg was "more than ready to finally address our nation's infrastructure crisis".

Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado applauded Mr Biden for tapping someone with "plenty of intellect, vision, and drive" to take a shot at modernising America's crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Others were not as thrilled.

"I don't know him at all," Maine senator Susan Collins, a pivotal Republican in the closely divided Senate, told reporters in Washington.

She instead brought up Rahm Emanuel, a former Chicago mayor and chief of staff to former president Barack Obama.

Mr Emanuel was mentioned as a potential candidate for several Biden Cabinet posts but drew strong backlash from progressives.

"I think Rahm Emanuel would have been a strong choice," Senator Collins said.

Buttigieg pays homage to former ambassadorial nominee

Mr Buttigieg tipped his hat to a Bill Clinton-era ambassadorial nominee whose nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans because of his sexuality.

Mr Clinton eventually used a recess appointment to make Ambassador James Hormel his envoy to Luxembourg in 1997 after Senate majority leader Trent Lott refused to allow Mr Hormel a floor vote.

Mr Buttigieg, who was 17 at the time but not yet out, recalled following the news of the fight over Mr Hormel's nomination and being struck by "some of the limits that exist in this country".

"So two decades later, I can't help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now," Mr Buttigieg said.

"And I'm thinking about the message that today's announcement is sending to them."

AP/Reuters

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2020-12-16 23:25:00Z
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