LaHood to step down as Transportation secretary

Susan Walsh/AP

Ray LaHood will not serve a second term in President Obama’s Cabinet, the Transportation secretary announced Tuesday.

LaHood, one of the few Republicans in Obama’s Cabinet, said he will stay in his position until his successor is confirmed.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the department, and I am grateful to President Obama for giving me such an extraordinary opportunity,” LaHood said in a statement to Transpiration employees. “As I look back on the past four years, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in so many important areas.”

LaHood praised his department’s staff effusively, thanking his staff and Transportation’s career employees for accomplishments  in areas such as creating jobs through stimulus funds and TIGER[[what does TIGER stand for?]] grants, the Distracted Driver Initiative, the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, and investments in building and repairing transportation infrastructure.

President Obama thanked LaHood -- who has been an outspoken supporter of Obama’s transportation investment proposals -- not just for his service but also for his friendship.

“I want to thank Secretary LaHood for his dedication, his hard work, and his years of service to the American people -- including the outstanding work he’s done over the last four years as secretary of Transportation,” Obama said in a statement. “Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent.  And Ray has never wavered in that belief.”

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association praised LaHood’s commitment to safety.

“Secretary LaHood has served during the safest period in aviation history,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said in a statement. “His leadership and his intense focus on safety has been an inspiration to all of us and we have been proud to serve in the DoT during his tenure. We thank him, congratulate him on a job very well done and wish him the best in his future plans”

LaHood, who represented Illinois’ 18th District in the U.S. House from 1995 until he became secretary in 2009, said his current job is the best he’s ever had.

Leading contenders to replace LaHood include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman.

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