Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump picks Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation

Roll Call file photo
Elaine Chao campaigned with her husband Sen. Mitch McConnel during his reelection bid to represent Kentucky.
ELAINE CHAO, who was Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, has been named Transportation Secretary by President-elect Donald Trump, according an official with the transition.

Chao will be the second Asian/American to be added to Trump's team of advisers. Last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was nominated as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Chao’s parents were born in mainland China and later moved to Taiwan.  
She came to the U.S. when she was only 8-years old and didn't speak English. During the early, transition period, “it was the kindness and the helping hands of strangers, who soon became neighbors and our friends, that helped us smooth our transition,” Chao told graduates at Indiana’s DePauw University in a 2002 address.

The nominations of Chao and Haley are pending, waiting for Senate confirmation early next year, although no one thinks the nominations will be turned down.

Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, which - of course - had nothing to do with her nomination because she has had plenty of Washington experience of her own.

At the Transportation Department, Chao would have a key role in helping Trump get an infrastructure spending bill passed through Congress and start government-backed works projects -- a role likely to be complicated by her relationship with McConnell, who will also be a critical player in any infrastructure bill negotiations.

Before being named Labor Secretary by President George W. Bush, Chao was also assistant secretary of transportation under the first President Bush, so she - unlike some of her fellow nominees such as Haley - has some experience in the subject area to which she has been named.

Chao, who served from 2001-2009 
the 24th as the Secretary of Labor, is the first Asian/American woman to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet in our nation’s history. She is the longest tenured Secretary of Labor since World War II, and the only member of President Bush’s original cabinet to have served the entire eight years of his Administration.

An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao’s experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to dedicate most of her professional life to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to build better lives.

As the first U. S. Secretary of Labor in the 21st century, Chao focused on improving the competitiveness of America’s workforce by restructuring department programs to empower workers and modernizing regulations to respond to the realities of the 21st century workplace. Under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Labor achieved record results in protecting the health, safety, wages, and retirement security of the nation’s workforce.

Secretary Chao’s career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, she restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier charitable institutions after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. As Director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and the independent states of the former Soviet Union. 

Her government service also includes serving as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Deputy Maritime Administrator, and White House Fellow. Prior to her government service, she was Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp in New York.

Chao has held a position as a distinguished fellow at the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, in addition to conducting media appearances.