President-elect Donald Trump named former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to be his new head of the Department of Transportation.
Chao served as Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush. She was with Trump last week to discuss labor and transportation policy.
Democratic members of the Senate hinted that she would probably not have trouble with her confirmation. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), the incoming senate minority leader, even offered his congratulations for her expected nomination. He also gave her kudos for her “long history of service to our country.”
“Senate Democrats have said that if President-elect Trump is serious about a major infrastructure bill, backed by real dollars and not just tax credits and without cutting other programs like health care and education, that we are ready to work with his administration,” Schumer said. “I hope Secretary Chao shares that ambitious goal and is willing to work with Democrats to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of good paying jobs along the way.”
Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). After her nomination was official, Senator McConnell issued the following statement:
“I am so proud of Elaine as she continues her accomplished career in public service. I am confident she will do an outstanding job for the nation in this new and important role.”
Not everyone is equally happy with her nomination. During her eight years working in the Bush administration, considered a relatively moderate one politically, Chao was criticized for not enforcing existing wage laws, overtime and workplace safety. When she left the federal employees who worked for her held a “good riddance” party.
“She was a terrible Labor Secretary,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the left-of-center Economic Policy Institute. “She cut the enforcement budgets and … OSHA protections, thereby leaving workers less safe and more likely to be cheated on their wages.”