Senate confirms Chao to lead DOT

Updated Feb 1, 2017

The Senate today confirmed Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation for the Trump administration.

Elaine Chao was approved by the Senate to be Secretary of TransportationElaine Chao was approved by the Senate to be Secretary of Transportation

The former secretary of Labor and undersecretary in the DOT, Chao had one of the easier confirmations of all of the Trump nominees. She had an easy, almost cozy, hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Senate approved her nomination with a vote of 93-6.

USA Today quoted the top two senators from that committee on Chao’s appointment:

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota: “It would be hard to come up with a more qualified nominee than Secretary Chao for this important role. Secretary Chao has repeatedly proven her willingness to roll up her sleeves to address the challenges facing our nation.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida: “I think we need Secretary Chao as someone who has the experience and who has common sense and that will be in the position to offer level-headed, good experience-based advice to the government going forward.”

Chao takes over the department at a time when infrastructure improvement has become a hot political topic. Trump wants to leverage private development while Democrats have already offered a plan that leans heavily on federal spending.

She will also have to deal with the new regulatory routine Trump signed into place this week: kill two existing regulations for every new on that gets proposed.

The six Democrats who voted against Chao’s conformation included Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York as well as Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey. Also voting no was Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont.

One senator voted present.

Chao is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.