Oberstar Praises LaHood's "Legacy Of Civility;" AOPA, NATA
Enthused About Choice
It's official. Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood (below) is
President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to replace Mary E. Peters as
head of the US Department of Transportation... and the Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association, among others, says he appears to be
the right man for the job.
"I want to express our enthusiasm in working with you in shaping
aviation policy that improves safety and supports the air
transportation system that is vital to the nation’s economy,"
said AOPA President-elect Craig Fuller. "Your background in
Congress as a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee and the
House Appropriations Committee gives you a special insight into the
aviation industry and many of the issues we face. Your
understanding of the importance of economic impact of aviation is
especially important as you take on this leadership role."
In announcing his choice, Obama called LaHood an "outstanding
public servant" and stressed he was committed to finding the best
person for the job, regardless of party. LaHood's appointment
reflects that "bipartisan spirit that we need to reclaim in this
country to make progress," Obama added.
AOPA notes LaHood has been a leading advocate for improving the
state of Illinois' transportation infrastructure, including being a
proponent for improving local airports. "We have a task before us
to rebuild America," said LaHood. "I understand what good
infrastructure and transportation means to local communities."
LaHood, a moderate Republican, served as the longtime chief of
staff to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL) before
winning the seat in his own right upon Michel's retirement in 1994.
LaHood served on the House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure from 1995-2000. While a member of the House
Subcommittee on Aviation, LaHood was an advocate for improving
local airports in Illinois by working with the community and local
officials to increase air service and secure funds for new
construction and expansion of airports. From 2001 to the present,
LaHood served on the powerful House Committee on
The choice was also praised by Jim Coyne, president of the
National Air Transportation Association and himself a former US
congressman. "President-elect Obama has made an excellent choice in
selecting Congressman LaHood as the next secretary of
transportation," Coyne said. "The Congressman has been a
long-standing advocate for general aviation during his tenure in
Congress, and we look forward to this continuing support and his
leadership as transportation secretary."
Coyne notes LaHood is known for trying to organize "civility
retreats" and other activities to help House Republicans and
Democrats work more collaboratively on legislative issues.
"Congressman LaHood’s record of reaching across party lines
and working with both parties is absolutely critical in this town,"
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James
Oberstar (D-MN, shown above) praised LaHood for his "legacy of
civility, of decency, of bringing people together, of reaching
consensus and reaching across party lines." He said that LaHood
would be "an excellent, superb in fact, secretary of
Transportation.... What Ray LaHood brings to the department, and
what the department needs, is managerial talent and the right
temperament to get the job done," Oberstar added.