By Ed Diokno
Elaine Chao, who was Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, has been named Transportation Secretary by President-elect Donald Trump, according an official with the transition.
The nominations of Chao and Haley are pending, waiting for Senate confirmation early next year, although no one thinks the nominations will be turned down.
Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which – of course – had nothing to do with her nomination because she has had plenty of Washington experience of her own.
Before being named Labor Secretary by President George W. Bush, Chao was also assistant secretary of transportation under the first President Bush, so she – unlike some of her fellow nominees such as Haley – has some experience in the subject area to which she has been named. Chao, who served from 2001-2009 the 24th as the Secretary of Labor, is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet in our nation’s history. She is the longest tenured Secretary of Labor since World War II, and the only member of President Bush’s original cabinet to have served the entire eight years of his Administration.
An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao’s experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to dedicate most of her professional life to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to build better lives.
As the first U. S. Secretary of Labor in the 21st century, Chao focused on improving the competitiveness of America’s workforce by restructuring department programs to empower workers and modernizing regulations to respond to the realities of the 21st century workplace. Under her leadership, the U.S. Department of Labor achieved record results in protecting the health, safety, wages, and retirement security of the nation’s workforce.
Secretary Chao’s career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, she restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier charitable institutions after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. As Director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and the independent states of the former Soviet Union.