President-elect Donald Trump announced Elaine Chao as his pick for Secretary of Transportation on Tuesday.
Chao previously served as the deputy secretary of transportation under President George HW Bush from 1989 to 1991. She was also the secretary of labor under President George W Bush from 2001 through 2009, and is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The US Senate must still approve her position.
Reports surfaced Monday evening that Trump would likely pick Lou Barletta, a Republican representative from Pennsylvania, as transportation secretary, but early on Tuesday it was confirmed his decision was for Chao.
Chao’s position has a heightened level of publicity after Trump made infrastructure investment a focus point of his campaign. The president-elect made a campaign promise to “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports”, among other infrastructure projects, as a way to revitalise the US economy and create jobs.
One of Chao’s first priorities will be to get Congress to pass an infrastructure spending bill. Trump made a proposal to invest up to $1 trillion in US infrastructure, and has pointed to mobilising private-sector capital to accomplish this.
Among other initiatives, outgoing transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, President Barack Obama’s second appointment to the position, helped pass a five-year surface transportation bill and created the National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau during his time in office.