In a significant move, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to slash the salary of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to a mere $1.
Introduced as part of the 2024 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, this measure is a response to ongoing criticisms from Republicans over Buttigieg's handling of transportation crises and his use of taxpayer-funded private jets.
The amendment was put forward by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has been a vocal critic of Secretary Buttigieg. She has accused him of failing to execute his responsibilities properly and of using taxpayer money for personal trips.
Secretary Buttigieg's use of taxpayer-funded private jets has drawn significant reproach, with at least 18 such flights having been taken since his tenure began, culminating in considerable costs. His travel to Montreal via private jet, specifically to receive an LGBTQ rights award, has been a focal point of the criticism.
The devastating train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which involved hazardous materials, further intensified scrutiny of Buttigieg, especially after he delayed his visit to the site by three weeks. This incident, along with broader transportation woes, has led to a chorus of Republican voices questioning his commitment to the role.
Greene has been notably vocal about Secretary Buttigieg's job performance, painting him as uninterested in the substantive aspects of his role and overly focused on public relations stunts. In a social media post, Greene stated:
I’m proud to announce my amendment to FIRE Pete Buttigieg just PASSED the House. American taxpayers should not be on the hook for paying for his lavish trips or his salary. Pete Buttigieg doesn’t do his job. It’s all about fake photo ops and taxpayer-funded private jet trip to accept LGBTQ awards for him.
The amendment's passage does not necessarily guarantee a change in Buttigieg's salary, as it will likely face challenges in the Senate and the executive branch. However, it signals a significant gesture of disapproval from the House.
An inspector general probe into the secretary's use of private jets is currently underway, aiming to cast light on these trips' costs and justifications. Despite requests under the Freedom of Information Act and an ongoing lawsuit, detailed information has been scarce.
Concerns extend beyond Secretary Buttigieg's travel habits. His decision to vacation in Portugal during a critical period of rail worker strike negotiations last year also came under fire, given the potential economic repercussions of a strike.
Public Trust, a well-known watchdog group, has also weighed in, criticizing Buttigieg for a perceived lack of transparency. Caitlin Sutherland from the organization accused him of avoiding accountability, a stance she suggests is becoming increasingly common within the current administration.
As it stands, the amendment is a clear statement of disapproval from the House of Representatives. However, how this will impact Buttigieg's tenure and the ongoing inspector general investigation remains to be seen.
Public opinion is also divided, with some seeing this as a necessary check on government expenditure and others viewing it as a political move. The tension around Buttigieg's performance and conduct in office continues to build.
While the amendment has passed the House, its future in the Senate is uncertain. As such, the salary cut, while symbolic, may or may not come into effect.