Sources close to President-elect Barack Obama say he is leaning toward picking Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood to serve as the next Secretary of Transportation. Obama is expected to make the selection official in the next 24 hours.
LaHood serves Illinois’ 18th District, which includes the city of Peoria. The Republican is a member of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal discretionary spending.
Since first being elected in 1994, LaHood has focused a majority of his efforts serving the agricultural industry, and has been a leader in the promotion of ethanol. He supported policies which are allowing unprecedented expansion of ethanol production in Illinois.
Although he has not sponsored any transportation-related bills on Capitol Hill, LaHood has worked to improve the infrastructure landscape in his home state. LaHood helped secure funds for the reconstruction of I-74, which runs through Peoria, the expansion of Rte. 67 and the completion of Rte. 336. He also is in favor of airport improvements.
If confirmed, LaHood, who did not seek re-election in 2008, would be the second Republican to serve on Obama’s cabinet.