Known as a lawmaker with a history of reaching across party lines to get things done, retiring Republican Rep. Ray LaHood from Illinois will soon take that diplomacy to the Department of Transportation.
President-elect Barack Obama announced on Friday, Dec. 19, that LaHood would serve as Secretary of Transportation for his administration.
“Mr. LaHood is an excellent pick by the Obama administration,” said Rod Nofziger, director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Nofziger pointed to LaHood’s experience on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 1990s, coupled with his evenhanded and open-minded approach to legislation, as a real positive for the small-business truckers OOIDA represents.
“It’s very encouraging and would be a great thing for small-business truckers.” Nofziger said. “We look forward to working with him.”
LaHood, in his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He previously served in the Illinois House of Representatives and worked as an educator and on a planning commission.
During his tenure in the House, “The Almanac of American Politics” notes that he has assumed leadership roles during a few notable times in history.
“The Almanac” reports that during Gingrich’s last days, LaHood was one of only three Republicans who did not sign the “Contract with America.” He refused to sign because he had reservations about voting for tax cuts before the budget was balanced.
Following that break from the Republican ranks, LaHood joined forces with Democrat David Skaggs to start a bipartisan retreat “to foster a Congress that is more civil and to create better communication among members.”
“The Almanac” was complimentary of LaHood’s ability to hand down evenhanded rulings and his ability to maintain decorum when he presided over the House on occasion.
One notable instance was when he presided over the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.
LaHood has led efforts to enhance the infrastructure in Illinois, according to his bio. He has worked to secure funds to improve local highways, such as the reconstruction of Interstate 74 in Peoria, the expansion of U.S. Route 67, and the completion of Route 336.
Specifically on the issue of trucking, LaHood voted for the legislation that intended to stop the cross-border program with Mexico by prohibiting the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in Mexico to operate beyond United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border unless expressly authorized by Congress.
– By Jami Jones, senior editor