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LaHood Accepts Transportation Secretary Job

Rep. Ray LaHood R-Ill. addressing a Republican rally at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Ill., in 2007. (Seth Perlman / Associated Press)

Updated 6:07 p.m.
By Paul Kane and Philip Rucker
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) last night accepted an offer to become President-elect Barack Obama's transportation secretary and the nomination will be made official in coming days, two senior Democratic officials said.

LaHood, 63, who is retiring after representing a rural downstate district in Congress since 1995, becomes the second Republican tapped for Obama's Cabinet. In recent years, LaHood developed a close relationship with Obama and the man who will become his White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, becoming a key player on the House Appropriations Committee on behalf of the Illinois delegation. A moderate Republican, LaHood has not shied away from criticizing the Bush administration and has a reputation for working with leaders of both political parties.

From his perch atop the Department of Transportation, LaHood will be a key player in the new administration's public works projects designed to stimulate the struggling economy.

The grandson of Lebanese immigrants, LaHood grew up in Peoria and earned a bachelor's degree from Bradley University. He taught junior high school students in Catholic schools and later was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He also served as a congressional aide, rising to chief of staff to then-House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.).

LaHood was elected to Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994 and has developed a centrist voting record and a reputation as a deficit hawk. He was one of only three Republicans who did not sign former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America," according to the Almanac of American Politics. He developed national fame when he presided over the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Kenneth P. Quinn, a former Federal Aviation Administration chief counsel who now is a partner at the Pillsbury law firm, hailed LaHood as an "outstanding bipartisan pick for the new president."

"But he's going to be facing extremely daunting challenges in the industry, particularly in aviation, to restore badly strained labor management relations at the FAA," Quinn said. "At the same time, he'll have to effectively modernize our air traffic control system and deal with very pressing competition and congestion problems."

Like Obama, LaHood has a special appreciation of President Abraham Lincoln and has been an advocate for protecting the 16th president's legacy in Congress. LaHood authored the law establishing the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which is developing plans for Lincoln's 200th birthday next year. LaHood also helped establish the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, according to his congressional biography.

LaHood and his wife, Kathy, have four children and seven grandchildren.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 17, 2008; 5:04 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cabinet  
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I see all that experience too. Not going to let it go bad. Transportation, better coordinated driving, he's going learn something he never knew, and will never forget. They hardly know it but we're going to change the way we drive whether this fellow has experience or not. He can this, that, and thee other things, but what I'm talking about, and have been, (and what a waste and loss of lives with the people that have been around, especially out of South Jersey) with the CFTS Constant Flow Traffic System, a whole new change is going to and already started coming about; and I'm sorry and say though, in dedication to all the lives lost already, and especially the VP elects family that is gone, will be watching over to make sure it gets there this time.
Joe Di Medio

Posted by: xceptit | December 20, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

This is truly dissapointing. I dont find any credentials for this post. He has no background in the transportation industry and being Republican...sounds like same old policies. I dont perceive any "Change".

Posted by: bru11els | December 18, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Sure he's _probably_ better than Mary Peters--that's not hard. But he surely doesn't seem progressive. He seems like the kind of guy from a rural area ready and willing to lay more roads and create more congestion around our already congested cities, increase our reliance on fossil fuels, and hurt our environment. This is where we needed a transformational figure. So far we have really no transformational figures in the Obama cabinet, but a good Transpo secretary could have been relatively uncontroversial and directed American transportation in a newer and sustainable development patterns. Now I have little faith in Obama.

Posted by: georgejones5 | December 18, 2008 3:07 AM | Report abuse

>I was hoping for Ron Sims for that position.

Too big a move. How about dogcatcher in Moorcroft, Wyoming?

Anyway, LaHood seems likely to support passenger rail--much more important than more expressway lanes.

Posted by: southsound | December 18, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Being popular won't help him finish his Cliff Notes before the next reauthorization bill.

Posted by: adjudicator | December 18, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

LaHood has been my Congressman for the last seven years, and this appointment is a good one. LaHood is hugely popular is his district, and could probably have stayed in Congress forever if he wanted. He's the kind of moderate Republican you don't see much anymore -- the kind who knows how to work both sides of the aisle, digs into tough jobs, and doesn't hog the media spotlight.

He's not on the Transportation Committee, but he's had a big hand in highway and airport projects here in his district, and statewide. If you're looking to the DOT to run big infrastructure projects as part of an economic stimulus package, or to raise fuel efficiency standards and reduce our use of imported oil, LaHood is exactly the guy who can go to Congress and get the bills passed.

Posted by: nathanirwin | December 17, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

What a gutshot for transportation advocates who were looking for smart, knowledgeable leadership at a critical time. So many other outstanding appointments and transportation gets THIS? Pass the antacids...

Posted by: adjudicator | December 17, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

LaHood's from Illinois. Emanuel is from Illinois. Arne Duncan is from Chicago. Blagojevich is from Illinois. Oooops. Scratch that last one.

Posted by: PGirl | December 17, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

"Do not feed the trolls"

Buy the Post at the news stand or subscribe.

Click on the ads here and buy stuff.

Posted by: joel5 | December 17, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

What I think is best about this appointment is that he is a recognized subject matter expert. Oh wait. Well, at least he was on the transportation committees of the house. Oh wait. Well at least he's from a metropolitan area so he understands all of the transportation issues in congested cities. Oh wait. Well, he has a drivers license and flies to DC every month, so he's a user of the system, that makes him an extremely well qualified stand out for the job, just like 260 million other americans.

Posted by: ghostest | December 17, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

This is often a cabinet position with little real policy opportunities. II hope Rep. LaHood is able to do something - he's an impressive person.

Posted by: Kili | December 17, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

A great pick!

Posted by: Left_of_the_Pyle | December 17, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

jfponeill wrote, "I find almost any blog commentary I've bothered to read on the POST site to be so riddled with vile, nincompoop savagery that I can never get past the first few posts. Most of it is at the level of the ravings scrawled on men's room walls in disreputable saloons."

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. If you do it consistently, I'd suspect that you and others might have a lasting impact on the site.

Posted by: officermancuso | December 17, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I didn't even post any vile, nincompoop savagery on this thread.

Posted by: JakeD | December 17, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I find almost any blog commentary I've bothered to read on the POST site to be so riddled with vile, nincompoop savagery that I can never get past the first few posts. Most of it is at the level of the ravings scrawled on men's room walls in disreputable saloons. The NYT's blog commentary, by comparison, is actually informative and often of a higher quality than what the blogger him/herself has to offer. RECOMMENDATION for the moderator (if any): moderate for a change, maybe even create two classes of responses should there in fact be sufficient material for doing so: noteworthy and infantile

Posted by: jfponeill | December 17, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

A wise choice by our new President. He understands that he needs to unite this country. He has to walk the walk. So far, he has. From what I have observed, Ray LaHood is not a right-wing nut.

Posted by: kralford | December 17, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Please don't let these Limbaugh Operation Chaos minions ruin your day. I post daily on several newspaper blogs across the country and there actually is a concerted effort by these loons to ridicule or defame every person associated with or action taken by Obama. That RNC koolaide will turn your brain purple and cause warts to appear on your hands neo cons.
Ha...I knew you would look. :-)

Posted by: swampsterman | December 17, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1


Why, because Obama isn't appointing stupid people like Dubya did?

Barack Obama; already 100 times better than Bush and not even in office yet.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | December 17, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who think that Obama doesn't represent change, he's putting intelligent people in positions held by Bush sycophants.

Already 100 times better than Bush!

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | December 17, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

hclark1: "Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS."

Heerman532: "You mean a really bad day for the REPUBLOTARDS, don't you?"

Oh, grow up - both of you!

Posted by: drkoelper | December 17, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

athome wrote: "If the level of commentary on this blog is the norm, why bother to invite same?"

Why, to give you something to complain about during those long days at home, of course.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

If the level of commentary on this blog is the norm, why bother to invite same?

Posted by: athome | December 17, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: htruman | December 17, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping for Ron Sims for that position.


Posted by: WillSeattle | December 17, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey hclark1 - I´ll bet you´re one of the idiot retard asshats that still thinks Bush was a good President. What do you think now? The economic and moral decline of this country is due to f@cking morons like you. Thanks for nothing. I hope to God you have been sterlized so that your seed won´t infect this country any further.

Posted by: VeloStrummer | December 17, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Another really bad day for LAME NAME CALLING . . .

Posted by: tifoso1 | December 17, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Another really bad day for the DOO-DOO HEADS!

Grow the hell up...

Posted by: enogabal | December 17, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

A good pick. LaHood is of the dying breed of moderate Yankee Republicans. He's a big supporter of Amtrak and public transportation and will be good at steering infrastructure aid to Governors of both parties.

Posted by: ElrodinTN | December 17, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

...and LaHood was a 'real American' - from a rural district. The republotards would rather this guy got caught wide-stance-toe-tapping in an airport men's room than help the Democrats fix what is ailing the US of A.

Oh the shame of it all!

Posted by: Heerman532 | December 17, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

You mean a really bad day for the REPUBLOTARDS, don't you?

After all, another one has turned to the Dark Side.

Posted by: Heerman532 | December 17, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | December 17, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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