United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that he will be resigning from his position. LaHood was the last Republican in Obama’s administration left-over from the President’s first-term in office. LaHood informed President Obama that he would be resigning as Transportation Secretary a week after the November elections, but he will remain in his current position until the Senate secures a successor, a process expected to take about two months.
Those rumored to take LaHood’s spot include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been actively trying to increase rail service in the city he serves, and Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. LaHood has made it known that he will not run again for public office in his home state of Illinois and doesn’t have any specific plans of what he will do once he’s relieved of his duties. Before taking over for former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, LaHood was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives with Illinois’s 18th district from 1995 to 2009.
If recent history is any indication, the Transportation Department is a good spot for a member of the current president’s opposing party to serve. Former Rep. Norman Mineta, a California Democrat, was head of the Transportation Department while George W. Bush was in office. Then LaHood, a Republican, took over while President Obama, a Democrat, assumed the presidency. Obama has also nominated Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to replace current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Love him or hate him, LaHood pumped billions of dollars from the 2009 economic stimulus package into transportation projects and pressured automakers to meet stricter guidelines for fuel efficiency on new cars. He also worked with Congress to overhaul highways and transportation systems while giving states the option of how it spends federal funds. Those “texting while driving” commercials are also LaHood’s doing, and many states have since outlawed texting while behind the wheel. LaHood is also known for dropping the hammer on Toyota after allegations of its vehicles inexplicably accelerating, a recall that would cover over 2 million vehicles and make the Japanese automaker lighter in the wallet.
Source: Detroit Free Press