Biden Administration Moves Swiftly on Key Infrastructure Positions

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On the heels of President Biden’s inauguration, infrastructure-related agencies across the federal government already had key nominations put forth. While more nominations will be announced in the coming weeks, the Biden Administration announced the following nominations:

  • President Biden nominated former Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Ms. Polly Trottenberg to be DOT Deputy Secretary. Prior to his nomination, Buttigieg was a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, IN from 2012-2020. During his confirmation hearing, Buttigieg highlighted his experience in infrastructure investment as a tool for economic growth and development, specifically discussing the SMART Streets Innovation in South Bend. He also took the opportunity to discuss further investment in the INFRA and BUILD grant programs as well as continued engagement with connected and autonomous vehicles. Several times during the hearing, Senators shared concerns about Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue shortfalls. Buttigieg stated that all options are on the table to ensure predictability and sustainability of our surface transportation network—including exploring options like vehicle miles traveled (VMT). He also expressed support of financing tools like advance refunding. ASCE has submitted a statement to be included in the record, congratulating Buttigieg on his nomination and expressing our eagerness to work with DOT and Congress to modernize our nation’s transportation systems. The Senate Commerce Committee has yet to set a date for Buttigieg’s committee confirmation before being voted on before the full Senate.
  • Polly Trottenberg most recently served as Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation. Before this most recent role, she served as DOT Under Secretary for Policy and served as a transportation policy advisor for Senator Chuck Schumer former Senators Barbara Boxer and Pat Moynihan. Trottenberg’s nomination hearing has yet to be scheduled.
  • Michael Regan has been nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ms. Radhika Fox has been tapped to lead EPA’s Office of Water. In 2017, Regan became Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. Regan had also worked with EPA’s air quality and energy programs for the Clinton and Bush administrations. Before leaving the agency, Regan served as a national program manager responsible for designing programs aimed at reducing pollution, and market-based solutions to improve energy efficiency, air quality and climate-related challenges. Currently serving as CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance, Fox has close ties to the President having been in an advisory role during his presidential campaign. Between 2011-15, Fox served as Director of Policy and Government Affairs for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and from 2000-11, she served as Director of Federal Policy at PolicyLink. Fox has also been a partner with ASCE, serving together on the United for Infrastructure Steering Committee and on the Value of Water Coalition, of which she served as director during her time at the Water Alliance. In this role, she also partnered with ASCE on its seminal water infrastructure economic study, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure: How a Failure to Act Would Affect the U.S. Economy Recovery.” The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has not yet scheduled the nomination hearings for Regan, and it is unclear if Fox’s role will require Senate confirmation.
  • The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas has been nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Prior to his nomination, Mayorkas served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama Administration and as United States Attorney in the Central District of California. Much of Mayorkas’ nomination hearing focused on non-infrastructure related issues, but if confirmed he would oversee the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and disaster response. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has yet to set a date for Mayorkas’ committee confirmation before being voted on before the full Senate.
  • Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM1) has been nominated to be Secretary of the Department of the Interior. A member of the Pueblo of Laguna, Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the Department which has jurisdiction over the nation’s tribes, management, and conservation of most federal lands (including the National Park Service) and natural resources, as well as programs related to historic preservation. Elected to Congress in 2018, Haaland had previously served as the Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party and ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2014. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has yet to announce a date for her confirmation hearing.

Infrastructure is the backbone of a strong nation and economy and the key to economic recovery. While the impacts of underinvestment and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to wreak havoc across our nation’s infrastructure, now is the time to invest to ensure our communities are not left behind. ASCE is eager to work with officials across the Biden Administration to achieve the goal of building back better and ensuring our infrastructure systems meet the demands of the 21st century.

 

 

 

 

 

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