What happened: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg March 26 reinforced the Biden administration’s commitment to modernizing the nation’s infrastructure and emphasized the need for bipartisan solutions. Nearly all 67 members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee asked him questions, but few policy specifics emerged during the five-hour hearing.

Buttigieg suggested states should have flexibility to use $350 billion in COVID-19 relief to address transportation budget shortfalls. He supported advancing a Vehicle Miles Traveled user fee. He avoided staking a position on hot-button issues such as potential changes to the share of traditional federal revenues that are directed to highways and transit systems, or the long-standing state distribution formula for core highway programs. 

Why it matters: This was Buttigieg’s first congressional testimony since his Senate confirmation. He signaled the administration’s position of using the Transportation Department to advance climate and environmental justice goals.

What’s next: President Joe Biden is expected to outline his infrastructure plan March 31 in Pittsburgh, followed by the April 1 expected release of a Fiscal Year 2022 government spending proposal likely to include further details on infrastructure principles.