(Adds confirmation from Trump transition team, Chao statement)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON Nov 29 President-elect Donald Trump
said on Tuesday he plans to nominate former Labor Secretary
Elaine Chao to head the Transportation Department as he plans to
push for $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending to fix U.S.
roads, airports, water systems and bridges.
Chao, the wife of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, served as labor secretary under President George W.
Bush and was the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet
"Secretary Chao's extensive record of strong leadership and
her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild
our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner," Trump said
in a statement.
Although Trump spoke on the campaign trail about wanting to
"drain the swamp" in Washington, more than half of Trump's nine
key appointments so far have been accomplished Washington
insiders, such as Chao.
Chao will take a leading role in Trump's plans to rebuild
U.S. infrastructure. Trump has called for $1 trillion in
infrastructure spending over 10 years, but it is unclear how
much of the funding would come from the federal budget.
Trump said during the campaign he would "create thousands of
new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors
to build the transportation, water, telecommunications and
energy infrastructure needed to enable new economic development
in the U.S."
"The President-elect has outlined a clear vision to
transform our country's infrastructure, accelerate economic
growth and productivity, and create good paying jobs across the
country," said Chao in a statement.
Chao will face a number of big decisions at the agency that
regulates the nation's vehicles, airplanes, railroads,
pipelines, ports and highways - including how to proceed on
self-driving cars on U.S. roads, the use of small unmanned
aerial vehicles, or drones, over people and whether U.S. fuel
efficiency standards should be revised.
There are dozens of other pending regulatory issues the next
administration will face, including railroad safety and staffing
rules, requiring event data recorders in all U.S. vehicles and
whether to set rules for airlines requiring they give more
passengers with disabilities seats with extra leg room and
whether to ban or restrict phone calls made on personal phones
on U.S. flights.
Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile
Manufacturers, a trade group that has urged the Trump
administration to conduct a sweeping review of auto regulations,
praised Chao as a "superb choice."
He said the next administration will make important
decisions on self-driving cars and how to maximize "the rate of
innovation in the technologies that save lives, avoid crashes
and improve fuel economy."
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised Chao's
expected nomination. She will be a "great Secretary of
Transportation. She really understands the federal
government-can lead rebuilding our infrastructure," he wrote on
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats want to
work with Chao on fixing infrastructure but "will not allow
Republicans to use an infrastructure bill as a Trojan horse for
undermining workers' wages and handing massive tax breaks to big
Chao is a former deputy transportation secretary and sits on
the boards of Wells Fargo & Co, Ingersoll-Rand Co
, News Corp and Vulcan Materials Co.
A Chinese immigrant, Chao arrived in the United States at
age 8. Her father, James S.C. Chao, is founder of the Foremost
Group, an international shipping company.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and