clear
Monday May 4th, 2015 11:10AM

Transportation secretary to leave administration

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the only Republican still in President Barack Obama's first-term Cabinet, said Tuesday he plans to leave the administration. His move continues an exodus that will give Obama's team a new look in his second term.

The 67-year-old LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, pushed for greater safety on the highways and in the air.

He led the Transportation Department throughout Obama's first term and helped steer a campaign to curb distracted driving, promote high-speed rail and repair roads and bridges. Under his watch, the department demanded tougher fuel efficiency requirements for automakers and took steps to address airline pilot fatigue.

Obama thanked LaHood in a statement, saying they 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."

LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press that he told Obama a week after the November election that he needed to move on but said he was still "conflicted" by his decision because he liked working for Obama and considered it the "best job I've ever had in public service."

He said he plans to remain at the department until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, which he expected in about two months. The only other Republican who was in Obama's first-term Cabinet was Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who stepped aside and was replaced by Democrat Leon Panetta earlier.

LaHood said he would not run for public office in his home state of Illinois and said he did not have any specific plans.

"I have had a good run. I'm one of these people who believe that you should go out while they're applauding," he said. LaHood said he was content to watch from the sidelines as his oldest son, Darin, serves in the Illinois state senate.

Obama is remaking his Cabinet at the beginning of his second term with the departures of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Panetta and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In addition to LaHood, the heads of the Interior and Labor departments also have announced their resignations in recent weeks.

The Transportation Department has carried a bipartisan imprint in recent years and been the place for a president to ask a member of the opposing party to serve. Former Rep. Norman Mineta, a California Democrat, served as Transportation secretary during the administration of President George W. Bush. Obama has nominated former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to serve as defense secretary to succeed Panetta.

Possible replacements for LaHood include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has pushed for increased rail service in Los Angeles and served as chairman of last year's Democratic National Convention, and Debbie Hersman, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The name of former Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, who led the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has also been mentioned.

LaHood, 67, served seven terms in Congress representing a central Illinois district that includes his hometown of Peoria, Ill., and overlapped with Obama in the state's delegation during the last four years of his career.

At the department, LaHood provided a bipartisan voice during the first term, helping implement billions of dollars in transportation projects from the 2009 economic stimulus bill and promoting the plan to wary Republicans. The department pushed forward thousands of infrastructure projects to improve roads and bridges and LaHood worked with Congress last year to pass an overhaul of highway and transit programs that gives states more flexibility in how they spend federal money.

He tackled a number of regulations that had been mired in gridlock. LaHood worked with auto makers and environmentalists to develop tougher fuel efficiency standards for new cars, with the goal of providing environmental benefits and reducing fuel consumption.

Guarding against airline pilot fatigue, the Federal Aviation Administration set new rules under LaHood's watch that would limit the maximum time a pilot can be scheduled on duty and place limits on scheduled flying time and hours for pilots flying overnight. The action was prompted by a deadly plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., that raised concerns about pilot fatigue.

LaHood also has taken on major transportation companies during his tenure, slapping Toyota Motor Co. with record fines for delaying safety recalls and failing to promptly report problems to federal regulators.

He recently ordered United Airlines to ground its Boeing 787 Dreamliner following mishaps with the aircraft's batteries. The FAA is investigating the cause of the problems to the Dreamliner, which uses lithium ion batteries and is the world's first airliner whose structure is made mostly from lightweight composite materials.

Perhaps LaHood's most passionate work has involved distracted driving, which he has called a "national epidemic." He has launched a national media campaign to end texting and cellphone use by drivers, an awareness campaign that has drawn comparisons to efforts to promote seat belt use more than a generation ago.

The grandfather of 10, LaHood has often emphasized the toll that deaths and injuries from distracted driving can inflict on families.

"Safety will be something that people will remember us for in all modes of transportation," LaHood said.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 1 year ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )