Former Trump administration Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has few regrets serving as the head of the agency despite mixed results on the administration’s agenda.
“Surely, there were things that we could have done differently,” Ms. Chao said. “But I think we tried our best. We worked very hard. We all felt it was a privilege to serve our country and to serve the American people.”
The former secretary also described the Biden administration’s approach to the agency as being “very different” from hers, highlighting priorities such as climate change and social equity being touted in the bipartisan infrastructure bill recently passed by the Senate, where Ms. Chao‘s husband, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, is the Republican minority leader.
Ms. Chao said that much of the bill went to social welfare programs over traditional infrastructure such as building roads and bridges.
“Seventy percent of that was for social welfare programs,” Ms. Chao said. “Equity and climate change is obviously a huge part of their concern. So, what we are seeing is a tremendous amount of new taxes being potentially levied and tremendous increases in new regulation.”
“I hope he enjoys his job,” Ms. Chao said. “It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to serve our country and lead a department as important as the Department of Transportation.”
In a statement at the time, Ms. Chao called the event “traumatic” and “entirely avoidable.”
“As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” Ms. Chao said.
Ms. Chao previously served as the Labor secretary under former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009.
She is the first Asian American woman to hold a presidential Cabinet position.
Prior to her tenure in the Bush administration, Ms. Chao served as the CEO of the United Way of America and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve as the head of the Peace Corps in 1991.
Mr. Trump ran on campaign promises to deliver on infrastructure but was unable to reach a deal with Congress on getting a bill passed, despite several attempts.
And Mr. Trump made clear he was no fan of Mr. Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure package, threatening to support primary challengers against Senate Republicans who backed the bill — though ultimately one-third of the minority members, including Mr. McConnell, signed on.
The former president has since put out statements and called out the minority leader by name in speeches and rallies across the country.
Ultimately, the bill was passed by a 69-30 vote in the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to bring a vote on the package in the lower chamber by Sept. 27.
• Mica Soellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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