Illinois Republican Likely Next SecDOT

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Ray LaHood, a moderate Republican Congressman from Illinois, has accepted a request to become transportation secretary in the coming Obama administration, news agencies reported Wednesday. The nomination is expected to be officially announced within a few days. LaHood, 63, has served in Congress since 1995. Kenneth Quinn, a former FAA chief counsel, told the Washington Post that LaHood is an "outstanding bipartisan pick." Quinn noted that the new secretary will face "extremely daunting challenges" in the aviation industry, especially in trying to cope with labor-management relations at the FAA. "At the same time, he'll have to effectively modernize our air traffic control system and deal with very pressing competition and congestion problems," Quinn said. According to the National Air Transportation Association, LaHood has been a "proponent for improving local airports [in Illinois] through securing funds for new construction and expansion, while also working with officials to increase air service." In 2000, when LaHood served on the House aviation subcommittee, he was cited as a "strong advocate of general aviation" by AOPA.

The aviation industry is sure to weigh in thoroughly on the choice over the next few days as the news is made official.