On November 29th, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Elaine Chao to head the Department of Transportation under his incoming administration. Chao is a well-seasoned veteran of past administrations, serving as Labor Secretary under George W. Bush and assistant Secretary of Transportation under George H. W. Bush.
While campaign promises seldom meet reality, President-elect Trump has signaled a commitment to investing heavily in transportation infrastructure during his administration. On the campaign trail Mr. Trump promised to pour a trillion dollars into transportation improvements. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), providing a sign that perhaps the administration is serious about their commitment to securing congressional approval of a large infrastructure funding package.
Chao was the first Asian female to serve in a Presidential administration when she was selected by George W. Bush to be his Labor Secretary. Chao’s reputation is that of a conservative, who, during her tenure as Labor Secretary, was criticized by liberals and the labor unions for not enforcing existing labor laws on wages, overtime and workplace safety. She is not the first spouse of a Congressional member to serve in an Administration. Elizabeth Dole served as Secretary of Transportation while her husband Bob Dole was Senate Majority Leader during the Reagan Administration.