WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the only Republican left in President Barack Obama’s first-term cabinet, said today that he would be leaving the administration.
Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood, 67, served for 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’ 18th District. During that time, he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and later on the House Appropriations Committee.
Prior to his election to the House, he served as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District.
“Ray LaHood has been a great friend to transportation workers and our transportation industry all of his career. We look forward to working with our new secretary of transportation to continue to grow public transportation, passenger rail and freight rail options,” UTU International President Mike Futhey said.
In a statement to Department of Transportation employees, LaHood said, “I have let President Obama know that I will not serve a second term as secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the department, and I am grateful to President Obama for giving me such an extraordinary opportunity. I plan to stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth transition for the department and all the important work we still have to do.
“Our achievements are significant. We have put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making. We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.
“And to further secure our future, we have taken transportation into the 21st century with CAFE standards, NextGen, and our investments in passenger and high-speed rail.
“I’ve told President Obama, and I’ve told many of you, that this is the best job I’ve ever had.”
According to the Associated Press, possible successors for LaHood include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has pushed for increased rail service in Los Angeles and served as chairman of last year’s Democratic National Convention, and Debbie Hersman, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The name of former Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, who led the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has also been mentioned.