Tester Hears From Transportation Secretary Nominee Pete Buttigieg on Plans to Keep Montana’s Rural, Frontier, and Tribal Communities Connected
Senator: “Infrastructure in rural America is as important as it is anywhere in the country”
At today's Senate Commerce Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Jon Tester heard from Pete Buttigieg-President Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Transportation (DOT)-on how he plans to ensure that Montana's rural, frontier, and Tribal communities are not left behind as he works to improve transportation systems and infrastructure across the country.
"Infrastructure in rural America is as important as it is anywhere in the country, and making sure that rural America has access to the dollars-even though we don't have as many people per square mile-is critically important," said Tester. "Now let me give you an example: there's a little highway that runs south of my farm, about 20 miles long...That little highway saves every farmer that lives out in my community literally hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year. Why? Less flat tires, front ends aren't knocked out of line, less wear and tear on vehicles so you can run them longer. That is why we need to make sure rural America is taken care of."
Tester continued: "As I've said before, we're living off the infrastructure investments of my parents and grandparents, and quite frankly, that's unacceptable. We owe more to our kids than that. And we shouldn't be doing it on borrowed money, we should be paying for it."
Tester questioned Buttigieg on his positions on key issues that will directly impact Montana's economy and people, noting the importance of bolstering rural aviation-particularly as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic-and bringing transportation spending in line with streams of revenue while ensuring rural roads and bridges are brought up to date.
Tester also emphasized that providing rural areas with flexibility is key as the DOT rolls out regulations, because one-size-fits-all policies geared towards urban areas are often harmful to rural, frontier, and Tribal communities.
"I do wanna talk about something that's been brought up by different questioners and that's one-size-fits-all regulations," said Tester. "It is really important that you take into account flexibility. I've delayed electronic logging devices for livestock haulers because I think those kinds of regulations will put people out of business. And quite frankly, not only in the trucking business, but also Agriculture."
Tester also praised Mr. Buttigieg for his cordiality and willingness to answer questions truthfully and transparently:
"You have put on a clinic on how a nominee should work and act. You haven't avoided the questions. You've been straightforward. And you know what the hell you're talking about. And that's pretty damn refreshing," said Tester.
Earlier this week, Tester secured a commitment from Mr. Buttigieg that he will be prioritizing transportation systems and infrastructure improvement in rural communities if he is confirmed to lead the DOT. Mr. Buttigieg also accepted Tester's invitation to visit Montana where he can speak with local community members and evaluate the state's transportation needs firsthand.
Watch the full video of Tester questioning Mr. Buttigieg HERE.