Ray LaHood Staying on as Transportation Secretary – For Now
The uncertainty appears to be over – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is staying on, at least for the time being:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he will stay on for an indefinite period in President Barack Obama’s second term….
LaHood declined to say whether he would stay or go several times at public appearances last week. He said at an inauguration party in Washington last night he will be “sticking around for a while,” without specifying.
So that’s not quite as definitive a statement as people might like. Will he be staying through the whole second term, or is he planning to step down at some point before 2017? We don’t know, but for the time being, LaHood is going to be sticking around.
And that’s good news. Ray LaHood has been one of the best Transportation Secretaries ever, and one of the brightest stars of the Obama Administration. Although many transit advocates were wary of a moderate Republican from Peoria, Illinois, he has turned out to be a warrior for an urban-friendly transit agenda that emphasizes rails, bikes, and maintaining our existing infrastructure over building new highways. LaHood has been particularly strong on high speed rail, going to bat for California’s project in a hostile Congress and fighting back against Midwestern Republican governors who wanted to kill their high speed rail projects yet keep the federal funding and use it for freeways.
While I would expect that a successor to LaHood would maintain that agenda, especially if it were the long-rumored Antonio Villaraigosa, we do know what we’re getting with LaHood and we know it will be good. So I welcome today’s news that LaHood is staying on, even if it doesn’t exactly answer the question of when, if at all, he’ll leave the Obama Administration.
On a related note, the president mentioned in his second inaugural address yesterday that climate change was an issue he wants to tackle in his second term. That’s good news for high speed rail, as reducing transportation emissions is an essential part of cutting overall carbon emissions and addressing climate change.