U.S. Senate Confirms Chao to Head Transportation Department

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January 31, 2017

New Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is sworn in by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) as her father, James S.C. Chao, holds a bible during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

In a 93 to 6 vote, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Elaine Chao as head of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Trump Administration.

Hours later she was sworn in by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a ceremony at the White House.

Chao is former U.S. Labor secretary under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009 and was the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She was deputy secretary of transportation under President George H. W. Bush.

Chao will likely be a key player in Trump’s “bold vision” for a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The department has a $75 billion annual budget and around 60,000 employees. It includes the Federal Aviation Administration, which handles air traffic control, as well as the U.S. Maritime Administration, working to ensure the U.S. maintains a strong merchant marine.

During her Senate hearings earlier this month, Chao pledged to uphold the Jones Act and said issues at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy would be the first thing she will take up at MARAD.

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