A couple of days ago I blogged about LaHood being rumored to be appointed the next Secretary of Transportation, aka the bossman of the DOT. Well today, that rumor became reality. Ray LaHood, known to his colleagues as “Grumpy” has been appointed the new Secretary of Transportation for Obama’s Administration. Obama puts ANOTHER person from Illinois on his cabinet.
He will serve as principal adviser to the president in all matters relating to federal transportation programs, among other duties. Other responsibilities include negotiating and implementing international transportation agreements and preparing transportation legislation. Yet the man has absolutely no real expertise or background in transportation policy other than serving six years on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee after his election in 1994, he has not been closely identified with any major transportation initiatives in recent years.
Obama said on LaHood, “He has not only helped rebuild our landscape, he’s helped beautify it by creating opportunities for bikers and runners to enjoy our great outdoors.” Obama is referring to H.CON.RES.305: Recognizing the importance of bicycling in transportation and recreation, introduced Feb 28,2008.
The League of Illinois Bicyclists posted a statement yesterday saying “[LaHood] is an active supporter of bicycling and trails, and he has very visibly gone against the wishes of his party leaders on our issues.”
LaHood said in his acceptance speech at Obama’s press conference: “We have a task before us to rebuild America. As a nation, we need to continue to be the world leaders in infrastructure development. Amtrak, mass transit, light rail, air travel and our roads and bridges all play a vital role in our economy and our well-being as a nation. We cannot stand by while our infrastructure ages and crumbles. We must pursue solid policies that allow our states and communities to address their transportation needs. We have a tremendous opportunity before us to rebuild our infrastructure and reinvigorate our economy, and I look forward to the challenge.
Note LaHood doesn’t address truckers, heavy rails or even highways. And infact he himself has already asked for help from ranking Republican on the Transportation panel, John L. Mica (R-FL) for help. “Its been awhile since he’s worked with the issues specifically and he said he would ask me to assist him.” “He’s a very intelligent guy. He’s someone who carefully reviews issues before he takes a position.”
TRANSPORTATION VOTING HISTORY
But lets look at his voting on transportation and infrastructure in Congress.
- DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 7110, the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008. Making supplemental appropriations for job creation and preservation, infrastructure investment, and economic and energy assistance for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2009 , making supplemental appropriations for FY 2009 for infrastructure investment to the DOT for the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration. It also included appropriations for clean water to the EPA, to the DOD for flood control, to the Dept of Education for school modernization, renovation or repair, to extend unemployment compensation, and a lot more that Obama wants in his Administration.[Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #660 and was present that day and voted on other bills but chose to NOT VOTE on this bill.]
- Voted No on HR 1507, providing for consideration of HR 7110. [Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #658]
- Voted NO on HR 1507, providing for consideration of HR 7110. [Sep 26, 2008, House Roll #657]
- Voted YES on passage of HR 6630, to prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from granting authority to a motor carrier domiciled in MX to operate beyond US municipalities and commercial zones on the US-MX border unless expressly authorized by Congress. [Sep 9, 2008, House Roll #575]
- DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 3999, National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #530] [Cost $7 per American over the 2008-2012 period.]
- DID NOT VOTE on Motion to Recommit with Instructions: HR 3999, National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act. [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #529]
- DID NOT VOTE on Amendment 10 to HR 3999, stating that none of the funds may be used to illegal immigrants. [Jul 24, 2008, House Roll #528]
- Voted NO on HR 1344, Providing consideration of HR 3999, to improved the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System. [Jul 23, 2008, House Roll #523]
- Voted NO on HR 1344, a ordering of HR 1344 to amend title 23, providing for consideration of HR 3999, to improve the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System [Jul 23, 2008, House Roll #522]
- Voted YES on on passage HR 6493, Aviation Safety Enhancement Act of 2008, establishing a law in the FAA of an Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office. [Jul 22, 2008, House Roll #512][Costing less than $1 per American annually.]
- Voted YES on on passage of HR 6052, Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act, authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to make grants for operating reducing fares, operating and capital costs of equipment, avoiding increased fares (Ours is actually doubling, announced only about a month ago), costs of acquiring clean fuel or alternative fuel vehicle-related equipment, also amends the Safe, accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #467] [Cost $4 per American over the 2009-2013 period.]
- Voted YES on motion to recommit with instruction on HR 6052. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #466]
- Voted YES on Amendment 3 to HR 6052. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll #465]
- Voted NO on passage of HR 1304, Providing consideration of HR 6052 to promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll# 463]
- Voted NO on ordering HR 1304, Providing consideration of HR 6052 to promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation. [Jun 26, 2008, House Roll# 462]
- Voted YES on passage of HR 6327, Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2008, amending the Internal Revenue Code to extend through FY2008 to excise taxes on aviation fuels and air transportation of person and property. [Jun 24, 2008, House Roll #447]
- DID NOT VOTE on House – S2146, Authorizing the Administrator of the EPA to accept, as part of a settlement, diesel emission reduction Supplemental Environmental Projects, if the projects protect human health or the environment, are related to underlying alleged violation, etc. [Jun 12, 2008, House Roll #413, LaHood was present that day.]
- Voted YES on passage of HR 6003, Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, authorizing appropriations for FY2009-FY2013 for Amtrak. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #400][Cost $43 per American over the 2009-2013 period.]
- Voted NO on motion to recommit with instructions on HR 6003. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #399]
- Voted YES on Amendment 2 to HR 6003, authorizing the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority to finance in part the capital and preventive maintenance projects. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #398]
- Voted YES on Amendment 4 to HR 6003, prohibiting funds from being used for long distance Amtrak route with the highest cost per seat/mile. [Jun 11, 2008, House Roll #397]
- Voted NO on passage for HR 1253, providing for the consideration of HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. [Jun 10, 2008, House Roll #392]
- Voted NO on ordering on HR 1253, providing for the consideration of HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. [Jun 10, 2008, House Roll #391]
- DID NOT VOTE on passage of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #386] [Cost, less than $1 per American over the 2009-2013 period. LaHood was present that day.]
- DID NOT VOTE on motion to recommit with instructions to HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #385. LaHood was present that day.]
- Voted NO on passage of HR 1233, Providing for consideration of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #381]
- Voted NO on ordering of HR 1233, Providing for consideration of HR 5540, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act. [Jun 5, 2008, House Roll #380]
Now LaHood is a republican however, As such, Obama has decided to use the head of the DOT as a throw-away political appointment that doesn’t matter putting someone at the bottom of the barrel. Instead of putting a person who is qualified in office, Obama chose someone who is not a transportation expert to push a progressive infrastructure agenda. Remember, this is how Obama is going to make over 2 million jobs, by “fixing” the infrastructure gearing up for the biggest overhaul of the U.S. transportation policy since the Eisenhower administration. “We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure,” Obama has said.
Additionally, a former Federal Transit Administration official stated, “In terms of attracting talent, no one I know is going to want to work for this guy.” “He’s got a horrible environmental record, he’s bad on climate change and he’s Caterpillar’s big man. Can we get a worse appointment?” LaHood got $148,000 from Caterpillar to get them between $20 and $75 million in annual earmarks for their South Illinois subsidiaries.
LaHood’s predecessor, Bob Michel, said “[Transportation] hasn’t been his topmost specialty, but he’s a quick learner and he’s been around long enough to know what the big issues are whether it’s land, sea, or air in the field of transportation.”
Now many say that LaHood is a great choice, since he has close ties to Caterpillar. However, CAT had stated in June that they were getting out of the on-highway truck engine business, no longer making engines for 18-wheeler trucks. In fact today, CAT announced that 814 Mossville, IL (Peoria) engine plant employees are going to be indefinitely laid off. And that CAT is building a new engine plant in TX. And the UAW has stated they are going to “chase these jobs to Texas. We will start an organizing campaign in Texas to organize these jobs that belong to be represented by the UAW.”
One good thing that LaHood did in relation to truckers, is that he did vote in favor of a bill prohibiting the DOT from granting the authority to Mexican carriers to operate beyond the border zone unless expressly authorized by Congress. So thus, the teamsters love him.
According to Open Secrets, LaHood’s contributors included the American Trucking Association and transportation unions. He was among the congressmen who fought unsuccessfully to delay the 2002 diesel emission standards.
BACKGROUND ON LAHOOD
He is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants, growing up in Peoria and earned a bachelor's degree from Bradley University in Education and Sociology in 1971. 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-IL).
LaHood was elected to Congress in 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, if you will, when he presided over the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
LaHood has a special appreciation of President Lincoln and has been an advocate for protecting the 16th president’s legacy in Congress. LaHood authorized 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.
OTHER RECENT SMALL FACTS
Budge & Economy
- Voted YES on the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act (Dec 2008)
- DID NOT VOTE on the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008 (Oct 2008)
- Voted YES on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Oct 2008)
- Voted NO on defining “energy emergency” on federal gas prices (Jun 2008)
- Voted NO or DID NOT VOTE on matters on Extending the Unemployment Compensation Act (Jun 2008)
Now the guy might seem like a civil guy based upon his voting record however, it still stands that the man has no real experience in dealing with the trucking industry and very limited in dealing with the transportation industry, and a bit of experience dealing with allocation of funds to build roads in Peoria, IL.
- “LaHood gets votes of confidence”, Peoria Journal Star, 19DEC08
- Same.gov: A Transportation Secretary Who’s Hard to Believe In”, Streets Blog, 19DEC8
- “CQ Transcript: President Elect Obama Announces Labor and Transportation Choices”, CQ Politics, 19DEC08
- “Obama Names LaHood to Lead Transportation Department”, CQ Politics, 19DEC08
- “UAW Will Chase Jobs to Texas”, MSNBC, 19DEC08
- “Ray LaHood on Civil Rights”, On The Issues