President-Elect Donald Trump has picked Elaine Chao, former Labor Secretary under George W. Bush and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as his Secretary of Transportation.
Chao, who served as Labor Secretary from 2001-2009, also served as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991. She is the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet-level position and ranks as the longest-serving Secretary of Labor since World War II.
Chao also has held a position as a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that advocates for devolution, whereby highway funding issues would be left up to individual states, and infrastructure funding proposals that include tolling and privatization.
It’s unclear where Chao stands on these issues. However, as the DOT Secretary Chao would take a lead role in President-elect Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which he said in his victory speech would “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports” and create jobs. The President-elect has yet to detail specific ideas for how his Administration would pay for such a massive infrastructure plan. But high-level statements have focused heavily on private investment and tax credits.
NATSO remains vigilant in its efforts to oppose highway funding schemes that ultimately could harm NATSO members’ businesses, including privatization, tolling and rest area commercialization.
American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear praised the appointment of Chao, with whom he served during his time as Assistant Secretary of Policy at the DOL from 2001-2004.
“From her experience as Deputy Transportation Secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Secretary Chao understands the issues we face as we try to keep America’s freight moving safely and efficiently,” Spear said in a statement. “We are eager to support her as our country and our industry work to improve our roads and bridges, improve safety, and harness the potential that emerging technologies have to continue to move our country forward.”
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