Obama's Transportation pick sails through Senate
The Senate has unanimously confirmed the nomination of Ray LaHood, President Barack Obama's pick for Secretary of Transportation, in a voice vote on the Senate floor.
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The atmosphere surrouning the confirmation of Mr. LaHood, a Republican and former Congressman from Illinois, has been nothing short of chummy. The Washginton Post writes that LaHood "was warmly received" by the Senate Commerce Committe, who on Wednesday forwarded his nomination to the Senate floor. Post writer Carol D. Leonnig goes on to describe the reception as "so genial that several senators treated the committee's nod as a foregone conclusion." At one point during the proceedings, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, began to address LaHood as "our soon to be –" before stopping himself.
As a former member of Congress with experience overseeing Executive Branch agencies, I know that you are well aware of the challenges that accompany managing such a significant department, with its wide-ranging programs, numerous facilities, and roughly 60,000 employees. I have no doubt that you will bring strong leadership to the department and a keen eye for fiscal responsibility that will be essential in this era of constrained budgets and skyrocketing deficits.
Many environmentalists, however, aren't quite as thrilled. Citing LaHood's lousy rating from the League of Conservation Voters and his extensive industry ties, particularly with Caterpillar, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of mining equipment, Worldchanging's Alex Steffen last week called his nomination "disappointing":
He may be no worse than most of those who've led the Department of Transportation, but his appointment is a profoundly uninspiring vote for business as usual at a time when we need change, and a strong indication that the administration doesn't get that energy policy, technological innovation, urban planning, environmental sustainability and transportation are all bound up together, and no solution to our problems can be had without tackling them all together.