Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was pressed on comments from Vice President Kamala Harris that critics said suggested Hurricane Ian relief aid be delegated based on factors other than purely loss claims.

Harris had said that "it is our lowest-income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions… We have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity."

On "Your World" Tuesday, Buttigieg was asked about those remarks as his own department seeks to help in the arduous task of rebuilding vital infrastructure like the destroyed Sanibel Island Causeway – the sole link between the popular island and Punta Rassa, Fla., on the mainland.

In response, the secretary said every claimant's case is indeed different, in terms of light home damage versus a destroyed dwelling, or residents asking for relief when their neighborhood was "completely cut off from resources" versus one that is still accessible.


Pete Buttigieg is in a feud with Marco Rubio

FILE - Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

"I think we all know that some Americans bear the brunt most-of-all of extreme weather events. And we've got to make sure that we're helping everybody based on the need that is there; that it's fair, that it's equitable. And that's something that I think you see built into the process right now," he said.

Host Neil Cavuto pressed further, pointing to private aid groups like Samaritan's Purse taking issue with Harris. Rev. Franklin Graham, who leads the global organization, said hurricane victims are all victims in the end.

"A person that lost a roof, that may have a big house, another person lost a roof, maybe a small house, they still both lost their roofs and their contents are getting wet. They're being destroyed, and they need help," Graham said.

In response, Buttigieg said relief should be based on need, and that "there are some folks who see politics where it doesn't need to be."


Supreme Court abortion protesters are seen after Roe v. Wade was overturned

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) rejoicing at the SCOTUS.  (Photo by Joshua Comins/Fox News)

The tranportation secretary said he viewed the situation slightly differently than Graham, explaining that if someone's sole home was damaged versus someone's vacation home, the latter still has a sound home to return to.

"[W]hether you're talking about the insurance process or whether we're talking about government processes, federal, state and otherwise, you take account for people who are absolutely desperate, experiencing hunger and their lives are in danger even today -- from those who just need to work their way through an insurance process to try to get things back to normal," he said.

"But again, I think that's something that we should agree on more than we disagree on. And of course, we recognize that there are many Americans who were vulnerable the day the storm hit. They're even more vulnerable now."

"And we've got to make sure we take care of them and take care of everybody to get them back on their feet."

A proponent of the Biden administration's green automobile transition vision, Buttigieg also later pushed back on continued criticisms from the right on the viability of moving on to electric vehicles nationwide.


Vice President Kamala Harris

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris smiles during her speech at the NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. July 18, 2022. (Reuters/Hannah Beier)

He noted that General Motors plans to phase out most internal combustion cars eventually, while also expressing surprise at comments from one Georgia Republican entirely opposed to such a move.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome accused Buttigieg of wanting to "emasculate the way [Americans] drive" by getting rid of internal combustion engines.

At a Michigan rally headlined by Donald Trump, Greene praised the "roar of a V8 engine" while contrasting such a dynamic with that of electric vehicles touted by Buttigieg. She further claimed the Biden administration wants to shutter Detroit's automobile sector.

Buttigieg grimaced at Greene's quote, remarking he "literally do[es]n't understand what that means."

"My sense of manhood is not connected to whether my vehicle is fueled by gasoline or whether it's fueled by electricity," he added.

"To be honest, there are other members of Congress that I pay more attention to when I'm thinking about opinions that really matter or ideas that are going to be critical to engage with."