Senate Set to Confirm LaHood as Transportation Secretary

lahood.jpgRay LaHood handles some softballs at his nomination hearing.

Looks
like Ray LaHood will sail toward an easy confirmation in the Senate.
Members of the Transportation Committee were congratulating him before
he opened his mouth at this afternoon’s nomination hearing, which just
adjourned. Here are some bullet points:

  • The livable communities plank
    in Obama’s campaign platform didn’t make it into yesterday’s inaugural
    address, but it did appear in LaHood’s opening statement. One of his
    top four priorities would be "a strong focus on people and
    communities." In terms of surface transportation, he said, this means
    "applying the principles some call livability. I intend to make livable
    communities a big part of what we’re gonna do."
  • Sustainability
    also made his list: "The transportation system must be sustainable. We
    must acknowledge the reality of climate change. Sustainability must
    permeate all we do."
  • He named safety and economic
    growth as his top two guiding principles, saying his "primary goal will
    be effective implementation of President Obama’s priorities."

It’s difficult to square all this with the Obama team’s reported favoritism toward highway spending in the draft stimulus bill. I wonder if LaHood feels the cognitive dissonance too.

When
it came time for questioning — a rushed process that lasted less than
an hour — LaHood’s responses showed a similar lack of consistency. One
minute he was repudiating earmarks and calling for decision making to
be linked to performance and metrics, the next he was telling Mark
Begich that he stands ready to work with the Senator on $2 billion in
road work necessary to complete construction of the $40 billion Alaskan
Natural Gas Pipeline.

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