President-Elect Trump Taps Former Labor Secretary to Head US DOT

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Secretary-Designate Elaine Chao Will Execute Trump Infrastructure Plan

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Elaine Chao, former U.S. Labor Secretary and wife to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to lead the government’s transportation policy and his plans to rebuild infrastructure in a program reportedly valued at as much as $1 trillion. Trump's transition team said, “Secretary 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.”

Chao served as Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush from 2001-2009, the only cabinet level official who served the entirety of both terms of the administration. Chao was the first woman of Asian descent to be appointed to a cabinet position when she was tapped to be Labor secretary in 2001. Chao’s experience in the transportation sector was established when she held the office of Deputy Secretary of Transportation from 1989-1991. She would also serve as Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission and Deputy Maritime Administrator.

Before her time as Secretary of Labor, Chao served as the director of United Way. She was also the director of the Peace Corps, where she established the first Peace Corps programs in the Baltic nations and the former Soviet Union. Before her government service, Chao was an international banker for Citicorp, as well as a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Institute and the Hudson Institute.

She currently resides as a member on the Board of Directors of many companies/organizations, such as Wells Fargo, Newscorp, Vulcan Materials, Ingersoll-Rand PLC, Crowley Petroleum Services, and Protective Life Insurance Company. In the past, Chao was also involved with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Clorox Company, and Northwest Airlines.

Secretary-Designate Chao is a known commodity within DOT and throughout Washington.  Reaction from the transportation stakeholder community regarding the selection has been overall positive and Chao’s nomination is expected to receive Senate confirmation early in 2017.  Secretary-designate Chao is on record in support of small and medium sized businesses and AMAC looks forward to engaging with her on DBE matters of importance pre and post-confirmation.   

Elaine Chao on Small Businesses

White House Forum

April 7, 2006

“Actually, small and medium sized businesses are the engines of job growth in our economy today. Between 1992-2005 firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 65% of average employment growth in our country. And firms with fewer than 100 employees accounted for 46% of average employment growth. That’s why the President has made small business growth one on his highest priorities, i.e., putting in place policies that encourage a climate of growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. He also supports policies that would expand access to quality, affordable health care for small businesses, such as Association Health Plans. These plans allow small and medium sized employers to band together, pool their risk, and purchase health insurance for their employees at more affordable rates.”

Department of Labor: Small Business Week

May 15, 2002

After praising the efforts and contributions of small businesses to the economy, Chao stated that she was “mindful” of the fact that, “sometimes the government does things that are well-intentioned but put an enormous burden on your businesses”. She continued by saying, “That’s why we are increasing our emphasis at the Department of Labor on compliance assistance. We want to get helpful information out to you to make it easier for you to comply with these regulations. We want to make sure the Department of Labor staff is there to help you, not just to fine and punish you, should you make an inadvertent mistake.”

House and Senate Leadership for the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

With Election Day in the rearview mirror, Congress must now embark upon the selection of its leaders for governance in the New Year.  To date, House and Senate Republicans and Democrats have announced the following leaders for the 115th Congress:

115th Congressional Leadership

House Republicans

  • Paul Ryan (WI), Speaker of the House
  • Kevin McCarthy (CA), Majority Leader
  • Steve Scalise (LA), Majority Whip
  • Luke Messer (IN), Republican Policy Committee, Chair
  • Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA), Republican Conference, Chair
  • Steve Stivers (OH), National Republican Campaign Committee, Chair
  • Doug Collins (GA), Republican Conference, Vice Chair
  • Jason Smith (MO), Republican Conference, Secretary

House Democrats

  • Nancy Pelosi (CA), Minority Leader
  • Steny Hoyer (MD), Minority Whip
  • Jim Clyburn (SC), Assistant Democratic Leader
  • Joe Crowley (NY) (probable), Democratic Caucus, Chair
  • Linda Sánchez (CA), Democratic Caucus, Vice Chair
  • Cedric Richmond (LA) - Congressional Black Caucus, Chair

Senate Republicans

  • Mitch McConnell (KY), Majority Leader
  • John Cornyn (TX), Majority Whip
  • John Thune (SD), Republican Conference, Chair
  • Roy Blunt (MO), Republican Conference, Vice Chair
  • John Barrasso (WY), Republican Policy Committee, Chair
  • Cory Gardner (CO), Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Chair

Senate Democrats

  • Chuck Schumer (NY), Minority Leader
  • Dick Durbin (IL), Minority Whip
  • Patty Murray (WA), Assistant Minority Leader
  • Debbie Stabenow (MI), Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, Chair
  • Amy Klobuchar (MN), Steering and Outreach Committee, Chair
  • Elizabeth Warren (MA), Strategic Policy Advisor to the Democratic Policy Committee
  • Mark Warner (VA), Policy Development Adviser to the Democratic Policy Committee
  • Bernie Sanders (VT), Chairman of Outreach
  • Tammy Baldwin (WI), Conference Secretary
  • Joe Manchin (WV), Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, Vice Chair
  • Chris Van Hollen (MD), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Chair

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