Joe Biden chooses Pete Buttigieg as his transportation secretary

U.S. 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Vice President Joe Biden, pose on the second night of the first Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami, Florida on June 27, 2019.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

President-elect Joe Biden has elected former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary, three people familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

Buttigieg, who opposed Biden in the 2020 primary, is expected to play a central role in the future president’s plans to restore and repair roads and bridges in the United States

The president-elect has said for months that smart, climate-friendly infrastructure projects can help the US emerge stronger from the coronavirus recession and support thousands of jobs.

A spokesman for the Biden transition team did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The 38-year-old Buttigieg quickly became a household name in the 2020 elections as the younger but still moderate option for Democrats hoping to prevent a second term for President Donald Trump.

Although Buttigieg was eliminated from the race in March 2020 despite winning in Iowa, the openly gay politician soon approved of Biden as president.

The president-elect has often lauded Buttigieg as a symbol of the next generation of Democrats and was widely expected to be appointed to a senior administrative post.

A Biden business ally told CNBC that Buttigieg could have a huge impact on the government’s infrastructure proposal as it is not tied to stagnant talks in Congress about paying for such a plan.

“He’s not inhibited by the restrictions on Capitol Hill,” the person said. I “haven’t spoken to him yet, but I’ll be sure when it happens.”

This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.

Among the many proposals made by the Biden campaign was a $ 2 trillion plan that, coupled with its climate goals, would “build new American infrastructure and a clean energy economy.”

The expansive plan includes more general investments in roads and bridges, as well as more specific proposals like providing high-quality, zero-emission public transportation to any American city of 100,000 or more residents.

Buttigieg, a military veteran, is perhaps best known in politics for his two terms as Mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020.

During his tenure, the city embarked on extensive urban development and revitalization projects similar to those that Biden campaigned for to revitalize American infrastructure.

Critics of his time as mayor said his revitalization plans for South Bend did not necessarily have helped racist minorities as much as hoped.

For example, many were optimistic about his plans to demolish or repair almost all of the city’s vacant houses, a demanding initiative that experts believed was impossible. The program focused on the city’s low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where homes were in disrepair.

And while many said they were glad that derelict structures were removed, they complained about the lack of planning of what would fill the space.

– CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to the coverage.

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