Pete Buttigieg

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
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Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the presidential race on March 1, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Buttigieg has positioned himself as a moderate and has called for generational change in political leadership. The second-term mayor is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and was a Rhodes scholar.
Harvard College, B.A., 2004; University of Oxford, Rhodes scholar, 2007
January 19, 1982
Chasten Buttigieg
US Navy Reserve, 2009-2017;
Consultant at McKinsey and Co., 2007-2010


Pete Buttigieg delivers infrastructure message from a bridge with a cracked steel beam
Updated 4:18 PM ET, Fri Jun 11, 2021
Truck driver Clifton Hughey heard talk all his life about a potential third highway bridge to cross the Mississippi River near Memphis. But with one of the two interstate spans here closed after inspectors discovered a critical crack, Hughey's once thirty-minute trip to haul goods at a nearby train terminal is now a grinding two- or three-hour detour. "They've been talking about it since I was little," Hughey told CNN, standing next to his shiny red Peterbilt. Haulers like Hughey are paid by the mile, not the hour. "We look at working five days a week but you're only getting paid for three because of the bridge out." Hughey drives one of the estimated 60,000 vehicles that until last month crossed the Interstate 40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas every single day. That traffic across what locals call the "New Bridge" has detoured onto the nearby and already congested "Old Bridge" -- a relic first opened in 1949 that now is the sole backbone of this critical logistics hub. "The New Bridge," built in the 1970s, is hardly the only bridge in disrepair in the US. The American Society of Civil Engineers says more than 46,000 bridges nationwide -- carrying 178 million vehicles daily -- are structurally deficient, rated as poor. The price tag to fix the country's bridge repair backlog is $125 billion, ASCE says. And while the Biden administration and congressional Republicans spar over the size and priorities of an infrastructure bill, those bridges are rusting and corroding. RELATED: The impacts from repairing the cracked I-40 bridge Inspecting the I-40 bridge in Memphis last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN that this project shows how "sometimes a specific piece of infrastructure in one place is actually a national concern." Logistics hub The trails through Memphis are critical to both the region and the entire US economy, local officials say. They point out the interstate highways make it the third-busiest trucking route, moving $350 billion of goods annually. Barge arrivals on the Mississippi River to the International Port of Memphis make it the fifth-largest inland port. Only one other city -- Chicago -- is also connected to five of the largest freight railroads. And Memphis International Airport is the FedEx Superhub, making it the world's busiest airport for air cargo. "This country needs to realize that from a transportation logistics perspective, this country doesn't work without Memphis, Tennessee," said logistics executive Bill Dunavant, whose firm Dunavant Enterprises has been hauling goods for generations, adding that the need for action is particularly urgent now. In the CNN interview on the I-40 bridge, Buttigieg points to it as an example of the "hard infrastructure" where he hopes lawmakers can find consensus, even as they continue to squabble over the broader definition of infrastructure. GOP negotiators on Capitol Hill have proposed significantly smaller plans than the Biden administration's ask, which includes money for at-home caregiving and to renovate and retrofit homes. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said after meeting with Buttigieg in Memphis that she wants to see the I-40 bridge back in service "safely and quickly." That's a priority Buttigieg shares. A failure of projects like the I-40 bridge, he noted, "would completely disrupt life in this case for the whole region and sometimes for the whole country." A critical crack The acute issue with the I-40 bridge is a crack in a 900 foot steel beam, discovered during a May inspection. The issue was so serious that inspectors called 911 and told dispatchers to close the bridge immediately. The bridge is currently closed to traffic in both directions, and it is unclear when it will reopen. "It's so simple and so shocking to see a literal split in a steel beam on which millions of pounds of pressure and countless thousands of lives depend," Buttigieg said. That tragedy struck in 2007 a few hundred miles north. Another interstate bridge over the Mississippi River -- an I-35 span in Minneapolis -- collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145. Investigators attributed the failure to a design issue and not corrosion and cracks in the structure. In its 2021 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave US bridges a C, only slightly better than the country's overall infrastructure rating of C-. It says 21,000 bridges nationwide are at risk of a potential disaster in extreme weather, possibly from water flowing over the surface or washing out the foundation. RELATED: The US gets a C- on infrastructure -- the first time the nation scored outside the D rage in 20 years Other common issues with bridges, ASCE former president Andy Herrmann said, are rust and flaking metal on steel beams and girders, and water leaking through the deck. The costs to repair continually degrading bridges is mounting, and skyrocketing prices for steel and other supplies add to the bill. Herrmann said poor infrastructure is hitting Americans in the wallet and pocketbook daily. "It's costing us money to repair our cars from damaged roads and bridges," he told CNN in an interview. "It's costing us money (on time) wasted in traffic -- costing us money on gasoline that we have to spend because we're just sitting wasting it idling." Herrmann said he is watching the politics in Washington with interest. "I'm a little hopeful this time, but I've been through infrastructure weeks in the past and I'm hoping this time we're actually going to make the investment," he said. In Memphis, officials are watching, too. In the trucking world, Dunavant and Hughey say the I-40 bridge closure shows the time is ripe for a third span there. "We're sitting here with the crisis of a bridge that could have been avoided years ago," Hughey said.


climate crisis
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Buttigieg released a plan in September 2019 that aims to move the US to clean energy and agriculture, shield existing communities and industries from the effects of climate change and lead a global response to the crisis. He calls for the Department of Defense to set up a Climate Watch Floor and would create a new senior climate security role within the department. He aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, pledging to invest $25 billion annually in research by 2025 – a move he compares to the Manhattan Project – and to set a price on carbon, generating money that would be returned to Americans as a dividend. He says his plan would generate 3 million new jobs as the economy transitions to clean energy production. Buttigieg pledges to spend $5 billion annually on grants for rural communities and ensure that new infrastructure “can withstand extreme weather and sea level rise.” He calls for integrating climate change into national security planning. Buttigieg supports the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. He has also proposed his own plan, which would impose a carbon tax on corporations and polluters and pass on the money raised from that tax to Americans as a dividend. Buttigieg has said he would rejoin the Paris climate accord, the landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. Buttigieg says he wants to ensure the US – “not China” – will lead the climate response globally, and suggests he’d use sanctions to push other countries to adopt carbon-pricing programs. He has also said that while the Paris accord is critical, he would like to hold a “Pittsburgh summit” within his first 100 days as president, where cities would come together to work on curbing emissions. More on Buttigieg’s climate crisis policy
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On the campaign trail, Buttigieg has clearly stated his view that manufacturing jobs are not returning to their previous levels because of factors like automation. In July 2019, he introduced a plan aimed at protecting workers and putting big tech companies firmly in the hot seat. Buttigieg would guarantee the right to join a union for all American workers including gig economy workers – like Uber and Lyft drivers, who are considered independent contractors and not employees of the companies. Buttigieg is no fan of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and has suggested that it caused significant and largely irreversible job loss. He has also focused on the need for the federal government to spur entrepreneurship in underserved communities. He has proposed having the government “triple the number of entrepreneurs from underserved areas – particularly ones of color – within 10 years” by offering grants and incentivizing investment in underserved areas and overhauling credit scoring as a way to open up credit opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. In August 2019, Buttigieg rolled out a proposal to provide $500 million in federal funding for “Regional Innovation Clusters.” Those would allow state and local governments to take the lead on developing economic projects based on the specific needs of individual rural communities through a grant program judged by a panel of entrepreneurs across the country. Buttigieg pledges up to $5 billion to expand apprenticeship networks across the country “to ensure an apprenticeship program in a growing industry is available within 30 miles of every American,” including underserved rural areas. Buttigieg seeks to create “Community Renewal visas,” with the aim of attracting high-skilled immigrants with the promise of attaining green cards at the end of three-year residencies in rural communities. Buttigieg also supports raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $15 and passing paid family and medical leave. More on Buttigieg’s economic policy
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Buttigieg – who, along with his husband, Chasten, has student loan debt that combined amounts to six figures – does not support making college tuition-free. He argues that lower- and middle-income families should benefit from tuition-free public college but not the children of the wealthy, or, as he put it once, “even the children of billionaires.” Buttigieg has looked to tie education affordability to his national service plan. The mayor, who himself served in the Navy Reserve, said his administration would provide support and incentives for students who decide to go into a service field before or after college. Buttigieg says he supports charter schools in some instances, but he said in Iowa earlier this year that “for-profit charter schools should not be our vision for the future.” His plan to combat racial inequality in the United States would increase resources to historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions by $25 billion. More on Buttigieg’s education policy
gun violence
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Buttigieg released a plan in August 2019 that would increase federal funding to combat hate and violent extremism, boost federal research into gun violence and work with social media companies to stem incendiary rhetoric online. He would dedicate $1 billion to law enforcement, including increasing the FBI’s field staff, for “sufficient resources to counter the growing tide of white nationalist violence.” Those funds would also be reinvested in Department of Homeland Security efforts to fight extremism, violence and hate. Buttigieg supports universal background checks. He has also backed a nationwide gun licensing system and a ban on the sale of so-called assault weapons. As mayor of South Bend, he’s long had a focus on reducing gun violence. Buttigieg joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors advocating stricter gun laws, in 2013 and supported the South Bend Group Violence Intervention, a program aimed at combating gun violence in the city.Buttigieg often talks about gun laws through a personal lens. As the youngest candidate in the 2020 race, he grew up in an era when school shootings have become common. As a veteran, he has training and experience with weapons. More on Buttigieg’s gun violence policy
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Buttigieg supports what he calls “Medicare for all who want it” – an idea that he says is a pathway to the “Medicare for All” proposal backed by other candidates, which would create a national government health care plan and essentially eliminate the private insurance industry. Under Buttigieg’s plan, private health insurance would still exist for consumers. Buttigieg also focuses on health care in his Douglass Plan, aimed at combating inequality for African Americans. He plans to diversify the medical workforce and create “health equity zones” to address health care disparities in certain geographic locations. In August 2019, he proposed a plan to improve health care access in rural communities by waiving visa requirements to attract immigrant doctors, increasing access to telehealth services by expanding high speed internet and creating a new office within the Department of Health and Human Services. Buttigieg plans to reduce maternal mortality rates by funding pre-maternity homes and offering subsidies for housing and transportation. He would also extend Medicaid coverage for one-year postpartum. Currently, Medicaid typically covers only 60 days of postpartum care. In October 2019, Buttigieg released a plan aimed at reducing prescription drug costs and jump-starting pharmaceutical innovation. The plan, titled “Affordable Medicine for All,” would penalize pharmaceutical companies that raise prices by more than the rate of inflation and by increasing the annual Branded Prescription Drug Fee, a section of the Affordable Care Act that sets an annual fee according to each manufacturer’s share of drug sales that goes to government programs like Medicare Part D and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Buttigieg also released an LGBTQ rights plan that proposes eradicating HIV/AIDS by 2030, ensuring access to the HIV drug PrEP for all who need it, finding a cure for AIDS and ensuring health insurance providers cover trans-specific medical care. More on Buttigieg’s health care policy
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Buttigieg has said he wants a comprehensive immigration plan, which would include providing a pathway to citizenship for those who received Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants, including people brought to the US as minors. He also calls for addressing the backlogs in the immigration and asylum processes and having “reasonable” security measures at the US-Mexico border. “I don’t have a problem with enhanced border security, perhaps to include fencing,” Buttigieg told PBS in February 2019. He suggested border security cannot be simplified with “just putting up a wall from sea to shining sea.” He has also proposed ending family separation at the border and evaluating practices from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection “to ensure similar humanitarian crises never happen again.” More on Buttigieg’s immigration policy


Masks and vaccine mandate show CDC and Biden taking emergency action amid Covid-19 surge
Updated 11:26 PM ET, Tue Jul 27, 2021
The steps President Joe Biden's administration is adopting this week to re-recommend masks and require vaccines for federal workers amount to emergency actions designed to contain a new surge of Covid-19 that has quickly become the top issue confronting the White House. The moves reflect a dramatic shift from earlier messaging about the pandemic waning and signal the fight of Biden's presidency is far from over. Biden on Tuesday explicitly laid blame for the current situation on unvaccinated people -- an escalation of his use of the bully pulpit as he furiously searches with his team for ways to curb the spread of the virus. The White House and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are adjusting its tactics because of a surge in cases driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant and new information about transmission even by vaccinated people, multiple sources familiar with the matter said. The decisions were not taken lightly, administration officials said, and came after a series of meetings, including a Sunday evening session where the new mask guidelines and a vaccine requirement at the Department of Veterans Affairs were discussed among Biden's team. Officials from the CDC and other federal health agencies continued to brief White House officials into Monday. Biden is expected to deliver remarks on Thursday laying out more of his strategy, including the announcement of a vaccine requirement for all federal workers and contractors. He said Tuesday a vaccine requirement for all federal workers was under consideration. Officials said such a requirement wouldn't include dismissing those workers who remain unvaccinated; instead, new rules would require regular testing and masks for those who have refused shots, making life difficult for anyone who decides not to get a vaccine. White House staffers were back in masks on Tuesday, required to wear them regardless of vaccination status, per an official. Biden's aides said they were aware of the potential political fallout from the recent steps, and acknowledged privately that earlier resistance to vaccine requirements was based partly on the expectation it would spark backlash. But now, officials said health concerns should outweigh what many expect will be accusations of flip-flopping and harsh blowback from Republicans. Top officials pored through new data and evidence regarding transmissibility of the variant and breakthrough cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, briefed Biden on the changes Tuesday morning. Among the more significant announcements was a recommendation everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. "If you're not vaccinated, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were," Biden said on Tuesday, adopting a harsher tone against the still-hesitant he blamed for the continuing outbreaks. "We have a pandemic because the unvaccinated and they're sowing enormous confusion. And the more we learn about this virus and the Delta variation, the more we have to be worried and concerned. And there's only one thing we know for sure, if those other hundred million people got vaccinated, we'd be in a very different world," he said. One person close to the White House called the Veterans Affairs mandate a "watershed" moment, putting the federal government in the business of vaccine mandates in what this person described as a test case for more action. "Delta creates a different environment," this person said, explaining the White House's shift in tactics. "This should hopefully egg along the private sector." Ultimately, concerns about spikes in hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated Americans led to decisions officials acknowledge will be politically fraught. The VA said four of its employees had recently died from Covid-19 -- and that none had been vaccinated. On both masks and vaccine mandates, Biden officials have acknowledged privately that taking a forward-leaning stance will open the administration to political attacks. The President's aides rejected "vaccine passports" early in their tenure, aware the concept had become a lightning rod. But since then, as the vaccination campaign stalled, health experts have increasingly called for a more aggressive posture. In another sign of the growing concern over the Delta variant, the House of Representatives' attending physician sent out new guidance later Tuesday requiring that "well-fitted, medical grade" masks be worn in all interior spaces of the House in light of the new CDC guidance. "To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED," Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan said in a memo. Worried over moving too slow Some of the administration's health officials were concerned the CDC was moving too slowly to update its mask guidance as the Delta variant ripped through communities, according to a senior administration official. White House officials have repeatedly said it would be up to the CDC whether to change official guidance and that they would follow the lead of health and medical experts. Two months ago, when the CDC updated its mask guidance saying most who are fully vaccinated could go without masks indoors, it moved so quickly that administration officials were informed less than a day before. Biden himself delivered a statement hailing the milestone. This time, officials said, the process moved in a more methodical way as the CDC decided how to proceed. A senior administration official said the decision was spurred by the more transmissible Delta variant. "It's based on the fact that the Delta variant is clearly more transmissible than the prior ones," the official said. New evidence also found that levels of virus found in the bodies of vaccinated people with breakthrough infections are similar to those found in unvaccinated individuals who contract coronavirus, raising concerns that vaccinated individuals may be able to spread the virus, the officials said. Versions of the virus that dominated in the past generally did not appear to be transmitted by people who had been fully vaccinated. "When you get information about risks and how to mitigate risks, there's a public health obligation to let people know about it," the official said. The White House is hoping that the new guidance will give local officials "a lot of cover" to implement new mask mandates where appropriate. It's still unknown whether the new steps will be effective. New recommendations for fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors apply to areas of the country with high rates of transmission. But many of the hardest-hit areas are places where mask wearing was already unusual. And some Republican governors -- many in Covid hot spots -- have declared they will not return to mask mandates. A psychological setback The new guidance comes about two months after Biden declared it a "great day in America" when the CDC revised its mask guidelines for vaccinated people and reflects a psychological setback for a country struggling to emerge from the grips of the pandemic. Still, the new steps are a sign that Biden and his team are looking for additional ways to contain a pandemic that is now entering a new phase because of the Delta variant. White House officials have been encouraged in recent days by upticks in vaccination rates, notably in states where caseloads are rising. But concerns over vaccine hesitancy remain, leading to new vaccine mandates for cities and states across the country. California said state employees and health care workers would need to get vaccinated or be tested regularly. New York City said its municipal workers would need to be vaccinated or face a test once a week. And in San Francisco, 500 bars said they'd require proof of vaccination or a negative test for all customers. VA vaccine mandate could be a key test After resisting implementing any vaccine mandates for federal workers or overseeing a vaccine credentialing system, the Biden administration dipped its toes in the business of compelling Americans to get vaccinated, beginning with a narrow requirement requiring Department of Veterans Affairs' health care workers be vaccinated. The White House views the VA mandate as a key test that could clear the way for other vaccine mandates within the federal government and which could encourage private sector entities to follow suit, two sources familiar with the decision said, but a national mandate is not feasible nor being contemplated. Biden administration health officials increasingly believe that making vaccination mandatory or unavoidable is the only way to break stalled vaccination rates that are keeping the US from reaching herd immunity. About 6% of adults said they would only get vaccinated if required, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's most recent monthly survey. Another 10% said they will "wait and see" before getting vaccinated. France saw a spike in vaccinations after that nation's president, Emmanuel Macron, said residents will need to be vaccinated or show a recent negative coronavirus test to enter restaurants and bars beginning next month. The White House has long resisted getting involved in coronavirus vaccine mandates and credentialing systems, fearing that doing so would only feed right-wing accusations of government overreach and undermine efforts to convince hesitant conservatives to get vaccinated. Heading in a tougher direction But stalled vaccination rates -- particularly in southern, conservative states -- are now propelling the White House in a different direction. "You don't pursue routes that we announced today until you've gone through and given people the opportunity to get vaccinated," one source close to the White House said, pointing to the importance of giving Americans the choice to get vaccinated before turning to harder-line tactics. On Monday, a collection of medical groups representing doctors, nurses and pharmacists called for mandatory vaccinations for US health care workers, writing, "The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it." Press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House supported that call. "These actions, in our view, are meant to keep patients and employees safe, and in fact I expect our own federal health care providers may look at similar requirements, as they do with other vaccines," she said. Asked whether such requirements could help improve vaccination rates, Psaki said they could. "It may," she said. "And beyond the President's goals, it may save lives, and that's the most important factor, in our view." Biden's powers to mandate shots among the wider public is limited. He could make them compulsory for members of the military but hasn't taken that step yet, as the three vaccines currently authorized for emergency