WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Transportation Department will tell a U.S. Senate panel on Thursday the United States must improve its infrastructure.

“We also have a lot of work to do to improve the infrastructure in this country, a mission that will not only keep more people safe, but also grow our economy as we look to the future,” former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will say, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

Biden put Buttigieg – a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination last year – in charge of the department that oversees aviation, highways, vehicles, pipelines and transit.

In April 2019, then President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders agreed to spend $2 trillion over a decade – but the president never proposed any new revenue source to pay for the upgrades – and never made it a priority.

“Infrastructure Week” became a long-running joke in the Trump administration as other unrelated events often overtook the effort to rebuild roads, bridges and airports.

“Now is the time, and we have a real chance to deliver for the American people,” Buttigieg will say in his testimony.

Biden said last week he will ask Congress in February for “historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy.”

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