Chao, nominated Nov. 29 as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of transportation, has the endorsement of the commercial transportation sector and would bring to the job nearly a decade of experience running a federal agency.
“Elaine Chao is very well-qualified to lead the Department of Transportation as secretary,” committee chairman U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said in a statement. “… As a former secretary of labor and deputy secretary of transportation, as well as a former chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, Elaine Chao has a distinguished record of serving the nation and has already shown she can work effectively with members on both sides of the aisle.”
Trump expressed hope she would achieve his goal of modernizing the country’s infrastructure and updating trucking regulations that concern the industry.
“Chao’s extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner,” Trump said.
The trucking industry, led by American Trucking Associations, also sounded hopeful that a Chao-led Department of Transportation would be understanding of its concerns.
“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,” said ATA President Chris Spear, who served as assistant secretary of policy at the agency from 2001 to 2004.
“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 added.
Chao led the Labor Department from 2001 to 2009 as the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position. Before that, she was deputy secretary at DOT and chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. She is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who told reporters he would not recuse himself from her confirmation vote.
If confirmed, Chao will succeed Anthony Foxx.