President-elect Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he has selected Elaine Chao to be his Transportation Secretary.
“Secretary Chao’s extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our missions to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner,” Trump said in a statement. “She has an amazing life story and has helped countless Americans in her public service career.”
The wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao served as Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush for eight years and deputy secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush. Her experiences under both Bush was praised by Trump as a pick that will bring “unparalleled experience and insight to the role.”
Chao, in the news release said she was “honored” to serve her “beloved country as Transportation Secretary.”
“The President-elect has outlined a clear vision to transform our country’s infrastructure, accelerate economic growth and productivity and create good paying jobs across the country,” Chao said. “I am honored to be nominated by the President-elect to serve my beloved country as Transportation Secretary.”
Chao met Trump last week at Trump Tower to discuss labor and transportation policy. According to the readout provided by Trump’s transition team, both Trump and Chao “conversed about labor and transportation issues with a particular focus on America’s long-term infrastructure needs, and reducing or elimination burdensome regulations.”
As Transportation Secretary, Chao will oversee the agency responsible for carrying out Trump’s campaign promise of infrastructure redevelopment within the first 100 days in office. Trump has vowed to invest $1 trillion in restoring bridges, roadways and transit systems over the next 10 years. In becoming Trump’s point person, Chao can help negotiate an infrastructure spending bill with congressional leaders, including her husband, to finally pas through Congress.
Earlier on Tuesday when talks of Chao was expected to become nominated, McConnell declined to comment to reporters, stating her impending nomination would be an “outstanding choice” and would not be recusing himself from voting to confirm his wife.
Once the nomination became official, McConnell issued a statement shortly after, noting he was “proud” and “confident” of this new important role.
“I am so proud of Elaine as she continues her accomplished career in public service,” McConnell said in a statement. “I am confident she will do an outstanding job for the nation in this new and important role.”
Top Senate Democrats haven’t voiced their opposition to Chao as they have with the nomination of Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of HHS earlier.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer congratulated her nomination and praised Chao for her “long history of service to our country.”
“Senate Democrats have said that if President-elect Trump is serious about major infrastructure bill, backed by real dollars and not just tax credits and without cutting other programs like health care and education, that we are ready to work with his administration,” Schumer said in a statement. “I hope Secretary Chao shares that ambitious goals and is willing to work with Democrats to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of good paying jobs along with the way.”
With top Democrats congratulating Chao nomination, she is expected to have a smooth path to confirmation.