Cantwell Secures Key Commitments from Buttigieg to Invest in Transportation Infrastructure, Improve Safety Culture at the Department

January 21, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Q&A Video | Transcripts

Cantwell: “To say we need infrastructure investment is an understatement" 

Buttigieg to Cantwell: “We need to make sure that engineers and the FAA are in the driver's seat when it comes to safety”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, the incoming Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, secured a commitment from Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to pursue a major investment in infrastructure and ensure safety at the FAA. Cantwell also highlighted and praised Buttigieg’s past work in this sector that qualifies him for this role within DOT.

“I am very excited that the President has nominated Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” said Senator Cantwell. “And I look forward to his vision in leading the Department of Transportation. As a mayor, I know you're no stranger to the challenges that a region faces on transportation infrastructure issues. I know that you earned national recognition for your “smart streets” project that created a safe environment for all road users, the project resulted in over $100 million in private sector investment. You used your experience as Mayor to help forge that, and I hope that you will do that for communities across the United States of America.”

In her Q&A with Buttigieg, Cantwell talked about the importance of infrastructure investment: “For us, in the state of Washington, we’re a big export state. Not only do we export our own products, so everything from cherries and wheat and apples and airplanes, but we also are a big pass through for many of the Midwest agricultural products reaching Asian destinations. So, to say that we need infrastructure investment is an understatement.”

“Would you say we need a significant increase in those programs, INFRA and Build?”

“Absolutely. There needs to be a major investment in order to deliver,” Buttigieg said.

Highlighting her bipartisan aviation safety legislation signed into law at the end of 2020, Cantwell asked Buttigieg about his commitment to implementing safety reforms at the FAA and ensuring the United States takes a leadership role in global aviation safety. Buttigieg responded: “I'm committed to doing so. We need to make sure that engineers and the FAA are in the driver's seat when it comes to safety, and we'll be working right away to implement the legislation that you've advanced with regard to ensuring that we have every confidence in safety at the FAA.”

To achieve those goals at the FAA, Cantwell asked: “Are you willing to make changes in personnel if necessary?”

“Yes,” Buttigieg responded.

Cantwell also noted the severe impact COVID-19 has had on the transportation industry around the country. Referring to the State of Washington’s Sound Transit agency as an example of budget shortfalls that have impacted transit agencies around the country, she said: “We need to make infrastructure investment all around the United States of America, including in public transportation. Projects like Sound Transit are facing a $1 billion shortfall as a result of COVID-19, which jeopardizes the much needed investment throughout Puget Sound… One of the most impacted sectors in the United States, not the only sector, but one of the most impacted sectors in the United States has been transportation.”

In closing her Q&A with Buttigieg, Cantwell noted her support for the Jones Act and the American maritime industry: “I am a big Jones Act supporter, and the State of Washington and the trade that we have related to the Jones Act to make sure that we have U.S. flagged vessels, sometimes it gets under attack but I just want to hear that you support the Jones Act.”

“Yes, I share your support for the Jones Act, it is so important to a maritime industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, as well as the shipbuilding industry here in the U.S.,” Buttigieg responded.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Buttigieg can be found HERE and audio is HERE.