Asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) about her "dig once" legislative efforts to coordinate the deployment of broadband and road building and improvements, Buttigieg said that one of the reasons his home state of Indiana had "phenomenal connectivity" because people remembered to lay conduit along highways and railways. He said that even if the effort were driven by another department, DOT would be open to supporting dig once.
Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) presided over the hearing because a power-sharing agreement has yet to be struck between the Senate majority and minority leader, but he signaled that there could be a symbolic passing of the gavel to new chair and current ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
If that Buttigieg hearing was any indication, there is some hope for greater comity in the new Congress.
Wicker said he was "absolutely delighted" that the first nominee the committee was vetting was Buttigieg, who he said would bring a valuable perspective to the post and who he said would definitely be confirmed. Buttigieg was introduced by Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young, who called Buttigieg a professional friend and colleague and someone for whom he had a great deal of respect.
Cantwell talked about the "great, collegial working relationship" she had, and expected to continue to have, and to grow in this Congress, with Wicker. For his part, Wicker thanked Cantwell for her cooperation in the past and said he was committed to working in a bipartisan manner.
The newly evenly split Senate Commerce Committee has also scheduled a hearing for Jan. 27 to come up with the rules governing the committee, a traditional effort given new emphasis since Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats controlling due to Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote and a pandemic that has caused hearings to be hybrid in person/virtual proceedings.
The rules include time and place of hearings, notice of those hearings, requirements for testimony, composition of subcommittees, budget approval, and much more.
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