Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao chosen by Trump to head DOT

By Staff, The Trucker News Service, November 29, 2016
Elaine Chao
NEW YORK — Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be his Secretary of Transportation. According to CNN, the official announcement on Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was to come this afternoon.
Chao was labor secretary under President George W. Bush from 2001 through 2009 and was the first Asian American woman to serve in a Cabinet position.
She previously had served as deputy secretary of transportation in the George H.W. Bush administration.
“She definitely has her government experience in place,” said David Heller, vice president of goverment affairs at the Truckload Carriers Association. “We look forward to working with the secretary on meaningful legislation such as highway funding, autonomous vehicles, Hours of Service and other issues critical to our industry.”
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear praised Trump’s choice.
“I had the privilege of serving with and working closely with Secretary Chao during my time at the Department of Labor, and I am extremely pleased that she will be taking on this new challenge,” Spear said. “President-elect Trump could not have picked a more qualified, experienced and dedicated individual to serve in this important role.
“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. 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.”
Spear served as assistant secretary of policy at the Department of Labor from 2001-2004.
“Should she be confirmed, we look forward to addressing all the issues facing the industry and small-business truckers,” said OOIDA executive vice president, Todd Spencer. “We welcome the opportunity to communicate with the transition team and educating them on everything from infrastructure to the burdensome regulations that hinder small-business truckers and undermine overall transportation efficiency.”
The head of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) said his organization was looking forward to working with Chao and the Trump administration to fully fund the nation’s critical transportation needs and ensure a healthy and robust national transportation system.
“Former Labor Secretary Chao is a respected leader who, based on her previous service at the U.S. Department of Transportation and in other roles, has a strong understanding of the transportation challenges facing the nation,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. “We look forward to working closely with the U.S. DOT to improve safety, and mobility of the American people.”
As DOT secretary, Chao she would have a major role in helping Trump get his infrastructure program rolling by getting funding for it through Congress and McConnell will be a key player in hammering out that program.
A government-backed public works project has also been mentioned and she likely would be involved in that as well.
The situation with her husband is not unheard of: Elizabeth Dole was DOT Secretary from 1983 to 1987 while married to Bob Dole, who was majority leader from 1985 to 1987.
Chao is the oldest of six sisters and her father James S.C. Chao is a shipping magnate who reportedly gave Chao and McConnell between $5 million and $25 million in 2008 to save their stock portfolio.
She has been married to McConnell since 1993.
Under her leadership, the labor department undertook reforms by recovering back wages and monetary recoveries for pension plans and obtained record financial settlements for discrimination by federal contractors.
Also during her tenure as labor secretary a West Coast port dispute in 2002 costing the U.S. economy nearly $1 billion daily was settled with a national emergency injunction against both employers and the union under the Taft-Hartley Act.
After leaving the labor department Chao resumed her previous role as a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and she contributes to Fox News and other media outlets.
The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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