Obama names 4 to senior posts

Ray LaHood named transportation sec.
December 19, 2008 3:08:01 PM PST
President-elect Barack Obama held a press conference in Chicago on Friday and announced his choices for the remaining positions in his cabinet.The president-elect named four high level picks - including a congressman from Peoria who's very familiar Chicago's transit needs.

President-elect Obama plucked a congressman out of Peoria to be his transportation secretary. Ray LaHood is a Republican, the second to join the top tier of the Obama administration.

"We have filled out our economic team and done so at an earlier point that any president in history because we face challenges unlike any we've seen in generations," said Obama.

Retiring Republican Congressman Ray LaHood has been asked to go from representing Peoria to U.S. Transportation Secretary.

Congresswoman Hilda Solis from California is Obama's pick to head the Labor Department. Venture capitalist Karen Mills will lead the Small Business Administration. And former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk is the nominee for U.S. Trade Representative.

Ray LaHood had just four years in Congress under his belt when fellow Republicans put him on the national stage. He presided over the House impeachment hearings of then President Bill Clinton who was accused of lying under oath about the Monica Lewinsky affair. "I have no intentions of resigning. It's never crossed my mind," said former President Bill Clinton.

Fast forward a decade and LaHood is tasked with tackling the nation's transportation needs. It's bound to be a high profile job in an administration promising to use mass transit, road and infrastructure work to help kick-start the nation's economy.

It's an expensive proposition with a price tag approaching $850 billion.

"We cannot stand by as our infrastructure ages and crumbles. We must pursue solid policies that allow our states and communities to address their needs," said Rep. Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary Nominee.

"Unless you have a bold approach, you could see the economy continuing to decline at a pretty rapid clip. That is not, not acceptable to me," said Obama.

Congressman LaHood helped steer the original O'Hare modernization bill through Congress. Mayor Daley's team believes he'll be an advocate in Washington.


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