Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made his first public appearance after being sworn to visit frontline workers at Union Station in Washington on Friday.
Watch Buttigieg’s remarks in the player above.
“There are so many essential workers in America’s transportation system, like the workers you see behind me, who we’ve been speaking with, who we depend on for our economy, for our way of life,” said Buttigieg.
“While many Americans are wrestling with the complexities of working from home, many other Americans don’t have the opportunity or the option of working from home. And they are supported by these extraordinary workers who look after the safety, the efficiency, the effectiveness of American travel.”
Buttigieg, a 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former Democratic presidential candidate, was sworn in Wednesday morning by Vice President Kamala Harris, at a ceremony in the Old Executive Office Building in the White House complex.
Buttigieg, the first openly gay person to be confirmed to a Cabinet post, took the oath on a Bible belonging to his mother and held by his husband, Chasten.
He was confirmed Tuesday by the Senate on a 86-13 vote, making him the second of Biden’s Democratic rivals to have a place in the administration, with Harris being the first.
Praised by Biden as bringing a “new voice” to the administration, Buttigieg has pledged to quickly get to work promoting safety and restoring consumer trust in America’s transportation networks as airlines, buses, city subway systems and Amtrak reel from plummeting ridership in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Health and safety is the Biden Harris administration’s number one priority and therefore also the number one priority of the Department of Transportation,” said Buittigieg.
“The science is very clear. Face coverings stop the spread of virus transmission and science based measures are essential to preventing and defeating COVID-19.”
He also is expected to play an important role in promoting Biden’s green initiatives, supporting the president’s push later this year on a $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan that would rebuild roads and bridges and expand zero-emission mass transit while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure.