US president-elect Joe Biden announced Pete Buttigieg as his nominee to lead the country’s Transportation Department. Buttigieg is the first of Biden’s Democratic rivals for presidency to land a role in his Cabinet.

This appointment is considerably an important step in the political rise of Buttigieg, 38, who served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. If confirmed by the Senate, he would run a sprawling federal agency that oversees the nation’s airlines, highways and transit systems.

“I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us,” Biden said in a statement.

On Tuesday evening, Buttigieg posted on Twitter that he was honored to have been tapped by the president-elect.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity – to create jobs, meet the climate challenge and enhance equity for all,” he wrote.

Buttigieg’s name had been rumored for several different positions. He was surprisingly competitive during the Democratic Party presidential race, having also enjoyed massive popularity on social media. When he dropped out the race, Buttigieg quickly endorsed Biden and became a valued supporter on television in the final weeks before the election.

Buttigieg would make history as the first openly LGBTQ Cabinet secretary to be approved by the Senate. He is also notably one of the few white men Biden has picked to serve in his Cabinet.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, praised the nomination, saying Buttigieg “was open and honest” about his identity and gave a voice to the community.

Biden’s decision comes as he rounds out his cabinet of top officials to run federal agencies, having already selected former Obama adviser Tony Blinken as his secretary of state, retired Army Gen Lloyd Austin as his secretary of defense and former Fed chair Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.

He’s also picked former agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to reprise that role in his administration, and Ohio representative Marcia Fudge to serve as housing secretary.


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