Pete Buttigieg, US secretary of transportation nominee for US President Joe Biden, smiles during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, US, January 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of transportation was confirmed on Tuesday by the Senate, making Pete Buttigieg the first openly gay member of a White House cabinet.

Buttigieg, a breakout star of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign before dropping out and endorsing Biden, was confirmed by a strong bipartisan vote of 86 to 13.

The confirmation elevates Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a US Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan as a military intelligence officer, to the leadership of a sprawling federal agency at just 39 years of age.

“Mr. Buttigieg is committed to working with members from both sides to improve rail and transit, highways, and more-in rural communities, urban centers, and everywhere in between,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote.

Biden has said he is eager to put together a sweeping infrastructure package. Buttigieg, who like Biden ran as a moderate Democrat, could be instrumental in winning over bipartisan support.

Buttigieg becomes part of what Biden has described as the most diverse cabinet in US history.

A confirmation vote on Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s choice for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was set for later Tuesday. Mayorkas would be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department.

AFP