On Tuesday, Elaine Chao was chosen to serve as the Transportation Secretary under President-elect Donald J. Trump. Chao has previously served as the Secretary of Labor for the administration of George W. Bush and is married to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). A formal announcement of the pick is expected in the afternoon.
This is a good pick for several reasons.
Primarily, Chao is the first Asian-American woman in American history to serve in a cabinet position. Her family moved from China to Taiwan, where she was born, to escape the communist regime. She immigrated at age eight to the United States. This pick may help to curb media concerns that Trump is filling up his cabinet extensively with white men. Along with Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. Nikki Haley, Chao will diversify Trump’s cabinet.
Also, Trump plans to spend $1 billion on infrastructure as a major priority once he is inaugurated. Chao would be intensively involved in any transportation infrastructure improvements during the stimulus. Her husband, Senator McConnell, would be key in getting the spending bill through congress.
Additionally, because of her marriage with Sen. McConnell, her nomination may be an olive branch to establishment Republicans in the Senate. Trump has been meeting with establishment figures like Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts in order to mend fences and ensure their support on legislative goals. If Romney isn’t chosen as Secretary of State, which he is being considered for, Chao’s nomination may be key in corralling establishment support.
Finally, Chao’s relevant experience in commerce, both in working for Bank of America and in government as Labor Secretary, make her an excellent pick. She has been the longest-serving Secretary of Labor since World War I. In the Trump administration, Chao will likely be a trusted advisor when it comes to the regulatory and tax policy overhauls that Trump has promised.