The House of Representatives has approved a controversial measure that would drastically reduce Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s taxpayer-funded government salary to just $1. The bill, proposed by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, was passed via voice vote as an amendment to the 2024 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
Greene, a vocal critic of Buttigieg, took to social media to announce the news, stating that “American taxpayers should not be on the hook for paying for [Buttigieg’s] lavish trips or his salary.” She also accused the transportation secretary of neglecting his duties and using taxpayer-funded private jets for personal gain.
Buttigieg, who has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans since taking office in 2021, has been accused of mishandling several crises at the Department of Transportation. In February, a train carrying dangerous vinyl chloride derailed in Ohio, but Buttigieg didn’t visit the site until several weeks later. In addition, there have been multiple instances of mass commercial airline cancellations during his tenure, with calls for him to take decisive action to protect air travelers.
However, it is Buttigieg’s use of government-managed private jets that has sparked the most controversy. According to Americans for Public Trust (APT), Buttigieg has used these jets on at least 18 occasions since taking office, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. In one instance, he used a government jet to travel to Montreal, where he attended a ceremony hosted by a Canadian gay rights organization and received an award for his “contributions to the advancement of LGBTQ rights.”
Despite multiple requests for information, Buttigieg’s office has refused to provide details about his private jet use, sparking an ongoing inspector general investigation. APT Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland has accused Buttigieg of “blowing off the American people” and “politicizing his role,” showing a dismissive attitude towards accountability and transparency.
Buttigieg also came under fire last year for taking a vacation in Portugal while his agency and the White House were involved in tense negotiations with rail worker unions. The Department of Transportation claimed it was a pre-planned personal trip, but critics argue that it was inappropriate given the urgent nature of the negotiations and the potential impact on the U.S. economy.
The passage of this bill to drastically reduce Buttigieg’s salary is seen as a strong rebuke of the transportation secretary’s actions and failures during his tenure. However, it is unlikely to become law as the Senate must also approve the funding bill and any amendments attached to it.
In the meantime, Buttigieg’s use of government-managed private jets and lack of transparency will continue to be under scrutiny. As Sutherland notes, the transportation secretary’s actions reflect a dismissive attitude towards accountability and transparency that seems to be prevalent throughout the Biden administration.