The Senate on Tuesday confirmed former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to lead the Transportation Department, making him the first openly gay person confirmed to a Cabinet seat.
The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor was confirmed 86-13 in the upper chamber. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the first openly bisexual U.S. senator, announced the vote.
“I’m honored and humbled by today’s vote in the Senate ― and ready to get to work,” Buttigeig tweeted later Tuesday.
LGBTQ rights advocates cheered Buttigieg’s historic confirmation.
“This confirmation breaks through a barrier that has existed for too long, where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.
Richard Grenell, who briefly served as acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration, was an openly gay member of Cabinet. Unlike Buttigieg, he was never confirmed by the Senate.
During his confirmation hearing on Jan. 21, Buttigieg promised to invest in the country’s transportation infrastructure in ways that will improve its safety, grow the economy and tackle climate change.
“Now is the time, and I believe we have a real chance to deliver for the American people,” Buttigieg said. “We need to build our economy back better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this by implementing President Biden’s infrastructure vision, by creating millions of good-paying jobs, revitalizing communities that have been left behind, enabling American small businesses, workers, families, and farmers to compete and win in the global economy, and tackling the climate crisis.”
“Infrastructure can be the cornerstone to all of this,” he added. “And you have my commitment that I will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and the growth that America needs in this area.”