Senate Panel Confirms Ray LaHood as DOT Secretary

 - January 22, 2009, 10:19 AM

Retired Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood breezed through a Senate hearing yesterday afternoon on his nomination to be Secretary of Transportation in the Obama Administration. As one of two Republicans in Obama’s Cabinet, he told the senators that while his primary mission is to bring the President’s priorities to the DOT and see them effectively implemented, he promised to be open and fair. LaHood served on the House aviation subcommittee for several years, and he was cited in 2000 as a “strong advocate of general aviation.” Although he presided over the impeachment of President Clinton and strongly supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the presidential election, he developed a close working relationship with Obama while representing the state of Illinois on the House Appropriations Committee. LaHood is also a friend of former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who is now White House chief of staff. Meanwhile, the DOT named Karlin Toner as the senior staff member for NextGen. In her new role, she will coordinate interagency development of the NextGen program.