WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, was headed down a smooth path to quick affirmation, pledging to senators on Thursday to operate with them to carry out the administration’s bold agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

A Senate committee vote on his nomination could come as quickly as next 7 days.

Talking at his affirmation listening to with his partner sitting down close by, Buttigieg pointed to a “generational opportunity” to create new work opportunities, struggle financial inequality and stem climate adjust. Normally sidestepping specifics, Buttigieg hinted at a broad local weather-centric purpose for the division that will require major investments, on major of Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID reduction program.

“We have to have to create our financial system again, far better than at any time, and the Office of Transportation can perform a central part in this,” the 39-yr-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, instructed the Senate Commerce Committee.

He indicated he would reverse a Trump administration rollback in federal automotive fuel economic system standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, get the job done to stiffen oversight of aviation security as the troubled Boeing 737 Max tends to make its return to the skies and persuade use of electric cars, such as by introducing a fifty percent-million charging stations nationwide.

Buttigieg did not specify wherever income could come from for major investments in infrastructure, and would not rule out a tax increase. He floated the chance of a important transform in how highways are funded, this sort of as by converting from the present Highway Believe in Fund, which is paid for as a result of the fuel tax, to a “vehicle miles traveled” alternate that would tax motorists based mostly on their highway mileage.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who chaired the listening to Thursday for a last time as the Senate finalized its transfer of power to Democrats, signaled probable difficulties in locating techniques to spend for a costly infrastructure overhaul, but explained he appeared forward to performing with Buttigieg.

“I’m quite specific he will be confirmed,” Wicker advised the listening to.

Buttigieg, a previous Democratic presidential candidate, would be the to start with openly gay individual verified by the Senate to a Cupboard post. He was amid the very first batch of Cupboard picks getting hearings this week as Biden urges the Senate, wherever Democrats hold a slender bulk, to rapidly verify his nominees.

Buttigieg would acquire over at a significant time for transportation. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated a lot of modes of transportation, with airlines, metropolis subway systems and Amtrak trying to get federal assist to help continue to keep afloat right up until ridership recovers.

Biden is mandating mask carrying on airplanes and community transportation units to sluggish the spread of the coronavirus, and Buttigieg made crystal clear that would be a precedence at the section.

“We ought to make certain all of our transportation programs — from aviation to general public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways and pipelines — are managed properly for the duration of this critical time period, as we get the job done to defeat the virus,” he claimed.

Nevertheless, it is Biden’s infrastructure approach, the comprehensive aspects of which are predicted to be released future thirty day period, that is very likely to pose the greatest problems. Biden has nonetheless to say how he intends to pay back for new paying.

Further than conventional transportation fixes, which are less difficult to promise than to get by Congress, Biden desires to rejuvenate the publish-coronavirus pandemic economy and generate 1000’s of inexperienced work opportunities by making environmentally welcoming retrofits and general public functions enhancements.

Growing on Biden’s vision, Buttigieg hinted there could be new polices or legislation governing self-driving vehicles to enhance enhancement, which would renovate the field. Due to the fact technologies is advancing speedily, he would like to assure “that we’re acting so that on the coverage side, we are ready for all of the issues that automated automobiles will deliver to our roadways and to our economic system.”

Buttigieg pointed to his previous working experience as a veteran of the Afghanistan War as properly as town mayor as precious in using a floor level method to enhancing transportation. He described initiating a “smart streets” program to make South Bend’s downtown more pedestrian- and bicyclist-pleasant though spurring hundreds of tens of millions of dollars in financial expense.

Buttigieg would not action into the career with substantial working experience enacting federal transportation policy, although advocates hope his community stature and faithful subsequent from the 2020 presidential marketing campaign could aid press as a result of broad variations long unachievable on Capitol Hill. Biden this 7 days nominated Polly Trottenberg, a former commissioner of New York City’s transportation section, to be deputy secretary.

On Thursday, Wicker jokingly asked Buttigieg if the Senate listening to may possibly pale in comparison to his large-profile media stops, such as the evening ahead of on “The Tonight Display Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He’s slated to surface Friday on ABC’s “The Look at.”

“I would characterize this as a distinctive working experience,” Buttigieg responded with a smile.

Through Donald Trump’s four decades in the White Home, his administration normally held “Infrastructure Week” activities and touted transportation advancements. But it was not capable to thrust Congress to pass any broad strategy to update the nation’s streets and bridges, rails and airports.


Krisher reported from Detroit. Involved Press writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.