Kansas City, Missouri 2021-04-05 00:03:42 –
Washington (AP) — Pete Butigeg A few weeks after his work as Secretary of Transportation, when he was buried in a meeting and arrived in the evening with time to try something new in Washington, he prepared for President Joe Biden’s $ 2.3 trillion public works program. was doing.
Instead of climbing the backseat of a black SUV like most cabinet secretaries, he headed for a bike-sharing rack. Wearing a helmet and several Secret Service agents standing beside him, he traveled a mile to his home near the Capitol.
It wasn’t a one-time stunt. On Thursday, Butigeg arrived at the White House for his motorcycle cabinet meeting. And that wasn’t his only “ordinary man” moment. Dog park enthusiasts in the District of Columbia also see him there and chat with everyone from children to lawmakers such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Washington, DC).
Butigeg first turned to the work of his current boss, Biden. Butigeg presidential election He was incredibly successful — he first tied up with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at the Iowa Caucus and finished second only to him in the New Hampshire primary — and he saw the future of the Democratic Party. I made a strong impression as a representative person.
Currently, the man known as “Mayor Pete” during the campaign (Mayor of South Bend, Indiana) faces the first test of that possibility in his first job in Washington. He leads the Cabinet Department on a mission with an annual budget of $ 75 billion. To help Biden spur an infrastructure program likened to the construction of an interstate highway system in the 1950s.
He needs to navigate both the complex politics of the bureaucracy established in the Ministry of Transport and the violent politics of Washington, which has been severely divided.
He may have found a way just by riding his bicycle. It has won fans even from Congressional skeptics.
“You have to keep your head up,” Butigeg told The Associated Press, explaining the paths and potential dangers posed by unfamiliar drivers, but moving from point A to point B could be much faster. Said there is.
Biden flooded Butigeg and four other ministers (the “Jobs Cabinet”) with funds for administrative infrastructure and climate planning, roads, bridges, airports, broadband communications, water systems and electric vehicles on Thursday. I ordered you to sell it.
But the plan has already hit a wall with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party. He opposed the corporate tax hike, saying Biden would pay for the plan and promise to oppose it “at every stage.” Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal is the chair of Congress’s progressive Caucus, saying the package should be quite large.
The challenge of helping build consensus fits the ambition of a man who had the courage to run for president from a perch, being the mayor of a medium-sized town in Indiana. When Biden chose a veteran of the Navy Reserve for the transport post, he praised him for providing “a new voice with new ideas determined to overcome old politics.”
Butigeg said in an interview that he believed in a bipartisan consensus.
“I had enough conversations, especially since I had a one-on-one conversation with the members on both sides of the aisle away from the camera, and I found that I was seriously interested in doing this.” Butigeg told AP. “Of course, politics can get in the way now, but unlike many other issues, here there is a deep feeling of passionate disagreement about what to do. So, even though there are many differences in the way, there is a really healthy overlap in our thinking about what must happen to get there. “
translation? Republicans also prefer smooth roads and high-speed internet for their members. But so far, there are no signs that Republicans share his position.
He is committed to promoting environmentally friendly alternatives to public transport and other gas-intensive vehicles and applying “equity lenses” to infrastructure projects.
Republicans describe a former McKinsey consultant as positive and open-minded, even if he sometimes wonders about his actual level of upset about legislation.
Illinois General Assembly member Rodney Davis, a top Republican on the main panel overseeing the highway, said he had talked twice with Butigeg in a meeting between Biden and a bipartisan parliamentary group at the White House. He called the conversation “really good.”
“I’m very excited to work with him,” said Davis, a cyclist living in his countryside. He believes the former mayor can provide a valuable street-level perspective to fill the potholes and relieve crowded streets.
“If he wants to go for a ride to discuss bike lanes and public transport, I welcome it,” he said.
Butigeg is the youngest minister at the age of 39, but has star power comparable to several others in the group. He had one recent stumbling block. He had to quickly return to his plans to charge the driver for every mile he drove. This is a proposal that, with some support among Republicans, could violate Biden’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on people with incomes of less than $ 400,000.
Butigeg impressed Westwing’s aides with his work ethic and willingness to learn. The presidential adviser is also warm to the former mayor of his decision to swiftly support Biden after abandoning his own campaign to accelerate the end of the Democratic primary. There is.
He knew when he would leave. If so, he probably knows when to return.
“He has incredible political talent and skills,” said Mayor Nan Welly of Dayton, Ohio, a longtime friend and 2020 campaign supporter. “But part of that talent and skill is having really great political timing.”
In that regard, she sees his work on infrastructure not as “a part of this grand plan for his next move” but as a demonstration of his ability to focus on the task at hand.
Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Calvin Woodward contributed to this report.
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