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Biden selects Pete Buttigieg for Transportation Secretary

Buttigieg, if confirmed, will have the most important seat in the cabinet when it comes to the auto industry.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg was a former rival of Biden's during the Democratic primary campaign.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is President-elect Joe Biden's choice for US Transportation Secretary, Reuters first reported on Tuesday. If confirmed by the US Senate, Buttigieg will have the most important seat in the cabinet in the eyes of the auto industry.

The Biden transition team did not return Roadshow's request for comment, though Buttigieg made Biden's selection official on social media Tuesday evening. The pick will elevate Buttigieg, 38, from a midwestern town mayor to the head of a federal government department in a span of a single year. He will also become the first openly gay person appointed to a presidential cabinet, if confirmed.

Biden's former rival will have a massive agency to oversee in the position. Buttigieg will oversee the Department of Transportation, which includes the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He may play a crucial role in future infrastructure decisions for US roadways, and changes in vehicle safety and emissions standards. These are key areas automakers will likely be eager to speak with the potential secretary about as many companies begin to rally around Biden's victory. Last month, General Motors dropped its support for the Trump administration's lawsuit that aims to strike down California's ability to set its own emissions standards. Nissan followed, and Toyota plans to take a second look at its support.

The biggest question that may face Buttigieg is the possibility of self-driving cars. Current Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao did begin to lay out framework for the future of autonomous vehicles in America, but Buttigieg, if confirmed, will likely face important decisions over the future of self-driving cars as progress continues on the technology.