Joe Biden boasted of a “cabinet of barrier breakers” on Wednesday as the US President-elect introduced his transportation secretary pick Pete Buttigieg, who if confirmed would become the first openly gay head of a Cabinet-level department.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be secretary of transportation, reacts to his nomination as Biden looks on during a news conference at Biden’s transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 16, 2020.
Buttigieg, whom Biden called “a policy wonk with a big heart,” is one of several trailblazing picks by the veteran Democrat who appears to be following through on his pledge to name the most diverse US Cabinet ever.
I am proud that we have finished naming the members of our Cabinet.It’s a Cabinet that looks like America and taps into the full range of talents we have in our nation.
“A Cabinet that looks like America” is how Biden, 78, described the inner circle that he is putting together.
“We’ll have a Cabinet of barrier breakers, a Cabinet of firsts,” he told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, noting that eight “precedent-busting appointments” were already made.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is among the historic picks, being the first woman and first person of colour elected to the post.
Others include retired general Lloyd Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defense, and Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the Treasury Department.
“And today a ninth, the first-ever openly gay nominee to lead a Cabinet department (and) one of the youngest Cabinet members ever,” Biden said.
Buttigieg, a former small town Indiana mayor who turns 39 one day before Biden is inaugurated on Jan 20, was like Harris a rival of Biden’s on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.
When he dropped out of the race he quickly endorsed Biden, who at the time compared Buttigieg to his own late son Beau Biden.
The President-elect hailed Buttigieg – who put his mayoral duties on hold to serve as a US Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan – as a “next-generation leader” who will bring critical problem-solving skills to the challenge of improving the country’s ailing infrastructure.
As a millennial, Buttigieg said, he and his generation have much at stake in improving “how America will look by the middle of this century.”
But he also acknowledged the history-making nature of the appointment of the first member of the LGBTQ community to a presidential Cabinet.
He noted he proposed to his now-husband Chasten, a teacher and writer, at an airport in Chicago.