What is in this article?:
- Trumpâ€™s Transportation Pick Backs â€˜Bold Newâ€™ Rebuilding Plan
- Infrastructure Bank
Elaine Chao, who is being considered for Secretary of Transportation, says deteriorating roads and other networks are jeopardizing the economy.
President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head transportation policy delivered a strong endorsement at her confirmation hearing of his proposal to seek private investment funding for a massive infrastructure building program based on a "bold new vision."
Elaine Chao, the immigrant who rose to become a cabinet secretary in a previous Republican administration and is now being considered for secretary of transportation, said deteriorating roads and other networks are jeopardizing the economy.
“I look forward to working with you to rebuild, refurbish and revitalize America’s infrastructure, so our economy can continue to grow, create good paying jobs for America’s working families and enhance our quality of life,” Chao said at the hearing on January 11.
While she stopped short of specifics such as how large the building program would be, she made clear she endorses Trump’s vision of relying on private money to pay for it so it won’t increase the deficit. Such so-called public-private partnerships typically rely on tolls or fees for new roadways, bridges and tunnels, generating revenue to allow investors to make a profit. Investors may also receive a tax break.
“As we work together to develop the details of President Trump’s infrastructure plan, it is important to note the significant difference between traditional program funding and other innovative financing tools, such as public-private partnerships,” she said. “In order to take full advantage of the estimated trillions in capital that equity firms, pension funds and endowments can invest, these partnerships must be incentivized with a bold new vision.”
Chao received an unusual introduction, signaling that she will likely face one of the easiest confirmations of any Trump nominee. Her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, made a rare appearance at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to recommend her.
Quoting another former majority leader, Bob Dole, whose wife Elizabeth Dole served as Transportation Secretary, McConnell said:
“I feel a little bit like Nathan Hale. I regret that I have but one wife to give for my country.”
Moments later, in her own introductory remarks, Chao said: “I will be working to lock in the majority leader’s support tonight over dinner.”
Trump has promised to improve roads, bridges, airports, schools, electrical grids and other infrastructure to meet needs and boost the economy. Some of those areas are outside the Transportation Department’s purview.
During his Nov. 9 victory speech, he vowed, “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.’’
Chao, 63, was born in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. at age 8, three years after her father came to this country to establish a maritime shipping company. She received an MBA from Harvard University and has held a number of posts in government, including secretary of labor under President George W. Bush.
She is no stranger to the nomination process and is considered unlikely to face strong opposition. She has been confirmed by the Senate for previous posts and has testified before congressional hearings dozens of times.