The House of Representatives has recently passed a bill that would drastically reduce the taxpayer-funded salary of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to a mere $1. Introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the bill received a voice vote in favor of the amendment to the 2024 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. This act serves as the standalone funding bill for various government agencies, including the General Services Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The passing of this bill signifies a growing discontent with Buttigieg’s alleged misuse of taxpayer money and his performance as Transportation Secretary.
One of the main grievances against Buttigieg is his perceived lack of action in response to various crises faced by the Department of Transportation. In February, when a train carrying vinyl chloride derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, Buttigieg faced criticism for his delayed response and apparent inaction. It took him several weeks to visit the site of the derailment, leaving many questioning his commitment to addressing such emergencies promptly.
Another point of contention is the significant number of mass commercial airline cancellations that have occurred during Buttigieg’s tenure. These cancellations, often due to pilot shortages and other factors, have raised concerns among both Republicans and Democrats. Many have called for Buttigieg to take decisive action to ensure the protection of air travelers from such disruptions.
Adding fuel to the fire are the allegations of Buttigieg’s frequent use of government-managed private jets. Since assuming office in 2021, Buttigieg has reportedly used these private jets on at least 18 occasions, sparking an ongoing inspector general probe. According to information obtained by Americans for Public Trust (APT), these flights have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
In September 2022, Buttigieg used a government jet for a roundtrip journey to Montreal. During his visit, he attended a ceremony hosted by a prominent Canadian gay rights organization and received an award for his contributions to LGBTQ rights. The transparency surrounding Buttigieg’s use of the executive fleet has been called into question, with his office stonewalling requests for additional information.
Critics argue that Buttigieg’s actions reflect a dismissive attitude towards accountability and transparency. Despite multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, a lawsuit, and an ongoing inspector general investigation, Buttigieg’s office has refused to provide crucial details regarding his use of private government jets. This lack of transparency raises concerns about the true cost and purpose of these trips, particularly those that seem more akin to campaigning than official Department of Transportation business.
Furthermore, Buttigieg faced backlash when it was revealed that he vacationed in Porto, Portugal, during tense negotiations between his agency and rail worker unions. The vacation, labeled as a “long-planned personal trip,” drew criticism as it took place while the U.S. economy potentially faced the dire consequences of a rail worker strike.
The passing of the bill to reduce Buttigieg’s salary to $1 reflects a growing sentiment among Republicans and some Democrats that he does not deserve his current salary. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the bill’s sponsor, accused Buttigieg of staging fake bike rides to the White House and using private planes funded by taxpayers to attend awards ceremonies related to LGBTQ rights. Greene, in a social media post, expressed her satisfaction with the passing of the amendment, emphasizing that American taxpayers should not be burdened with funding Buttigieg’s extravagant trips or salary.
Caitlin Sutherland, the Executive Director of Americans for Public Trust, criticized Buttigieg for disregarding the American people’s desire for transparency regarding his taxpayer-funded private jet trips. Sutherland believes that Buttigieg’s dismissive attitude towards accountability and transparency is indicative of a broader issue within the Biden administration. She contends that Buttigieg’s actions seem to politicize his role and suggest that he considers himself above scrutiny.