Buttigieg looking to put “politics aside” in push for extensive $1 trillion transportation infrastructure plan

'Politics aside, there is solid economic thinking behind a sizeable infrastructure push," he said.

Soon-to-be Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, is already making plans to improve American roadways through an infrastructure package officials are describing as “big” and “bold.”

Although recently-resigned Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, called on Buttigieg to take the reins of the Department of Transportation, he is yet to be sworn in as the 19th Transportation Secretary – the youngest on record at 38-years-old. 

Still, Buttigieg has already been discussing a major infrastructure package with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and hopes the plan could make a huge difference. 

“We discussed the need to finally deliver on a big, bold infrastructure agenda that centers on jobs, equity and climate,” Schumer said on Dec. 30 after discussing infrastructure plans with Buttigieg, reported Logistics Management.

“With the coronavirus pandemic upending our economy, including areas of the transportation sector like airlines and hard-hit public transit systems, Pete and I discussed the need to continue delivering relief to workers in those industries in future COVID-19 relief legislation,” Schumer said.

“[I am] thrilled to finally have a willing and effective ally in the administration who will work with Congress to use transportation projects as an opportunity to create jobs, grow our economy and address the climate crisis,” Schumer continued. 

Parts of the trucking industry agree with Schumer, pointing out Buttigieg’s experience as a mayor, and how that position makes him uniquely qualified to tackle infrastructure issues. 

“Transportation is an issue that touches all Americans—urban, rural, coastal and in the heartland of our nation,” American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement. “Having served as a mayor, Pete Buttigieg has had an up close and personal look at how our infrastructure problems are impacting Americans, and how important it is to solve them.”

In fact, just last year, Buttigieg called for the fortification of the fast-disappearing Highway Trust Fund, and even supported a change in the user fee system, replacing fuel tax with a ‘vehicle miles traveled’ system. Fuel Tax has remained unchanged since 1993. 

Prior to the election, Biden demanded a $1.3 trillion plan over the span of 10 years – which would allocate $50 billion for the repair of highways and bridges, $400 billion for research and development of clean energy, and $5 billion for electric vehicle batteries. 

“We selected Pete for transportation because the department is at the intersection of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better,” Biden said at the press conference at Buttigieg’s nomination.

“Politics aside, there is solid economic thinking behind a sizeable infrastructure push. For one thing, there are few better ways to get millions of workers back to work. Communities have a desperate need for better roads, bridges, water and sewage systems, and internet access. And with the prime rate near zero, identifying projects that make compelling economic sense won’t be difficult,” Buttigieg said, according to Logistics Management.

“We should be leading the world when it comes to transportation infrastructure, not catching up. [We need] opportunity, equity, and empowerment.”