WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Elaine Chao, the former labor secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to be his choice for transportation secretary, an official briefed on the matter told CNN on Tuesday.
The announcement is expected to come this afternoon.
House Speaker Greg Hughes was asked to submit information to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team last week but in the end wasn’t selected.
The Draper Republican was asked to give them information about his past work in transportation.
Hughes’ name was floated for possible Transportation Secretary in the Trump White House.
It came after a conference last week where Hughes spoke and his name was repeatedly dropped as being under consideration.
Earlier this month, Hughes told FOX 13 he had not been contacted by the Trump transition team and was happy with his job as leader of the Republican super-majority in Utah’s House of Representatives.
Chao served as secretary of labor under President George W. Bush from 2001 through 2009 — the longest tenure in the position since World War II — and has been married to McConnell since 1993. She was the first Asian-American woman to serve in a Cabinet position.
Chao also served as the deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991. Following her time in government, Chao has held a position as a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation in addition to conducting media appearances.
At the Transportation Department, Chao would have a key role in helping Trump get an infrastructure spending bill passed through Congress and start government-backed works projects — a role likely to be complicated by her relationship with McConnell, who will also be a critical player in any infrastructure bill negotiations.
But Chao wouldn’t be the first transportation secretary faced with such a conflict — Elizabeth Dole served in the position from 1983 to 1987, while married to Sen. Bob Dole, who served as majority leader from 1985-1987.