Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg won Senate approval Tuesday as transportation secretary, the first openly gay person to be confirmed to a Cabinet post.
Buttigieg was one of the first nominations announced by Joe Biden after his White House victory over President Donald Trump in November.
The Transportation Department helps oversee the nation’s highway system, planes, trains and mass transit and is poised to play a key role early in the new administration.
Biden has pledged to spend billions making major infrastructure improvements and on retrofitting initiatives that can help the U.S. battle climate change. He also wants to immediately mandate mask-wearing on airplanes and public transportation systems to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Buttigieg, 38, was part of the most diverse field of candidates in recent memory during the 2020 presidential primaries. He announced his White House candidacy in 2019 and enjoyed a brief period of national exposure and momentum after winning the most delegates at the Iowa caucuses.
He dropped out of the race after placing fourth in the South Carolina primary, an election that propelled Biden’s floundering campaign to victories on Super Tuesday and beyond.