Senate Confirms Chao As New Secretary Of Transportation


Elaine Chao was easily confirmed by the United States Senate on Tuesday as the 18th Secretary of Transportation by a vote of 93-6. Chao is expected to support efforts to privatize the delivery of U.S. air traffic control services, though she did not share her opinions on privatization formally during the confirmation process. A privatized air traffic control system would likely be funded by user fees, which are popular with airlines but have stirred opposition from the general aviation community. In a recent earnings call, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly was cautiously optimistic about Secretary Chao and the new administration: “We’re very enthused about her nomination. I don’t know that it’s clear exactly what the administration’s focus will be in aviation. I think there’s broad desire to roll back regulations, but I don’t know that we know of anything that is specific.”

Ms. Chao previously served as the Secretary of Labor from 2001-2009 under President George W. Bush and is married to Mitch McConnell, the senior U.S. Senator from Kentucky and current Senate Majority Leader. Ms. Chao immigrated to the United States at the age of eight speaking no English with her parents, who were refugees of the Chinese Civil War.