U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing on Thursday, January 21, 2021 to consider the presidential nomination of Peter Buttigieg to be Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation.
- Mr. Peter Buttigieg, of Indiana, to be Secretary of Department of Transportation
*Witness list subject to change
Thursday, January 21, 2021
This hearing will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
*In order to maintain physical distancing as advised by the Office of the Attending Physician, seating for credentialed press will be limited throughout the course of the hearing. Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream.
Chairman Roger Wicker
This hearing will come to order and because of the technicality that a power sharing agreement has not yet been signed between the majority leader and the minority leader. I am chairing this hearing today, and I want to thank Senator Cantwell for her corporation as we move toward a transition and perhaps for the next hearing we will have a symbolic passing of the gavel. But I want to convey my commitment and expectation that, as we move forward, we’ll continue to work together in a bipartisan manner on the vital issues that come before this committee. In the last Congress, that bipartisan approach led to more than 50 public laws being enacted out of this committee. This cooperative spirit will extend to the confirmation process for President Biden’s nominees to lead the departments and agencies within our jurisdiction, and I am absolutely delighted today that the first of these nominees submitted for our consideration is Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be the Secretary of Transportation.
Mayor Buttigieg has impressive credentials which demonstrate his intellect and commitment to serving our nation. As a former local elected official, he will bring a valuable perspective to the Department of Transportation regarding the transportation infrastructure needs and challenges of towns and cities throughout our country. His educational background as a Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University will serve our country well as we address our nation’s transportation policy priorities. I also want to thank him for his service as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
I also at this point want to thank outgoing former Secretary Transportation Elaine Chao for the professional and principled manor in which she has directed the department for the past four years and I salute her on her accomplishments as once again as a member of a presidential cabinet.
I look forward to hearing from Mayor Buttigieg today on his and President Biden’s goals for the Department of Transportation, should he confirmed as Secretary and I am quite certain he will be confirmed. I know this is only the beginning of our dialogue about key matters, including:
- implementation of the momentous COVID legislation passed by Congress, which provides assistance to key transportation sectors just as aviation;
- infrastructure investment and how to improve infrastructure in small towns and rural communities, including using financing tools such as advanced refunding or creating taxable infrastructure bonds;
- promoting transportation safety in coordination with state and local governments and other stakeholders;
- further advancing transportation innovation, including autonomous vehicles and drones;
- building upon our transportation networks, including our ports, highways, and rail systems; including our national passenger rail system, Amtrak.
- And in that connection addressing one of my top priorities—restoring Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast where it was halted after Hurricane Katrina some 15 years ago.
These issues are significant for all Mississippians, all Washingtonians and all Americans, and I am grateful that Mayor Buttigieg is here today to provide his views and I am grateful that he is willing to serve.
I want to thank Mayor Buttigieg for testifying today and at this point
I turn to my friend and soon to be Chair of this committee, Senator Cantwell.
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Opening Statement at Senate Commerce Committee Nomination Hearing
Witnesses: Mr. Peter Buttigieg, of Indiana, to be Secretary of Department of Transportation
January 21, 2021
Cantwell: Well, thank you Mr. Chairman, and I certainly appreciate the great collegial working relationship that we have established thus far and I look forward to growing it in this Congress. As you know, we were able to work together productively and pass landmark aviation safety legislation, and many other pieces of legislation, including the Coast Guard bill that moved out of this committee and then on to other moving legislation and successfully implemented into law, so thank you for that productivity among other legislative priorities. I do want to take a second since we have both the members of our committee who were able to successfully pull off yesterday's celebration just thank Senators Blunt and Klobuchar for getting us safely through yesterday and having the magnificent celebration that it was and look forward to working with them. And certainly want to again thank, as you mentioned, Secretary Chao for her work on many transportation priorities. I think this committee is a hallmark of bipartisan cooperation. A lot of the subjects we deal with are just hard problems to solve, and we've been able to continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion, so I hope that will continue. I think transportation, of all the sectors that we deal with, transportation should be one of those in which we should be able to use facts and information and come together on priorities. So, I am very excited that the President has nominated Mayor Pete Buttigieg to run the Transportation Agency. And I look forward to his vision in leading that 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.
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. The growth of the Pacific and the demand for us products is a good problem to have, we just need to deal with the bottlenecks. And congestion in Puget Sound is at record levels. We need to address projects like the I-5 Columbia River Bridge replacement, the West Seattle Bridge replacement, the North-South Corridor in Spokane. And 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. Today marks the one year anniversary of the first case of the COVID pandemic with a man from Everett, Washington, being tested positive. 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. The Chairman alluded to the fact that this committee played a very aggressive role in trying to come up with solutions for the impacts to the transportation sector whether that was aviation, or most recently, with infrastructure and with Amtrak, but that will continue. The needs to move product and people will continue whether we have a COVID pandemic or not, and so I hope that you will help us in facing these shortfalls.
I also want to point out that, as I mentioned, the movement of freight is particularly important and we will look forward to your leadership and moving, improved ways to move freight around the United States. I continue to think that the legislation that ended up being in the INFRA grant program was very helpful to states across the United States. And I just want to mention the fact that aviation safety and security in the legislation that this committee passed and was implemented into law has to now be administered by the Department of Transportation and the FAA. So, we're going to be looking for your leadership, your success in holding them accountable to the many aspects of that legislation, and helping us move forward. If we want to be the leaders in the United States of America on aviation, we have to be the leaders in aviation safety as well, so we'll look for your leadership on that. So Mr. Chairman, I'm excited about this nominee's ability to help us focus on transportation issues, and look forward to seeing his leadership at the Department. Thank you.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Peter ButtigiegSecretaryDepartment of Transportation