January 19, 2017

Elaine Chao to be Secretary of Transportation


  • Secretary Chao has had a long and varied career in the public, non-profit, and private sectors, serving as secretary of labor and deputy secretary of transportation.
  • Secretary Chao recognizes the challenges facing America’s transportation systems.
  • She has pledged to work “to rebuild, refurbish and revitalize America’s infrastructure.”

Biography

Secretary Elaine Chao, who immigrated to the U.S. with her family at age 8, has had a long and varied career in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. She has served as deputy secretary of transportation, chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, deputy maritime administrator, and as secretary of labor from 2001-2009. She has also been director of the Peace Corps and was president and chief executive officer of United Way of America. Secretary Chao has sat on a wide variety of corporate and non-profit boards. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Senate Action

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a confirmation hearing for Secretary Chao on January 11.

Considerations

Secretary Chao has extensive experience at the highest levels of government, including serving as secretary of labor and deputy secretary of transportation. As Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune said, the Department of Transportation faces a number of challenges, and “if you were to imagine an ideal candidate to tackle these challenges, it would be hard to come up with a more qualified nominee.”

In her prepared testimony to the committee, Secretary Chao cautioned that America’s transportation systems face “infrastructure in need of repair, the specter of rising highway fatalities, growing congestion, and ... a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies.” She promised that, in fixing these problems, “safety will continue to be the primary objective” and noted that regulatory decisions “should be rooted in analysis derived from sound science and data, with risk-based analysis that prevents accidents before they happen, and considers both the costs and the benefits of new rulemakings.” Secretary Chao pledged to work “to rebuild, refurbish and revitalize America’s infrastructure, so our economy can continue to grow, create good paying jobs for America’s working families and enhance our quality of life.” 

Issue Tags: Senate, Transportation