Ray LaHood served as the 16th Secretary of Transportation from 2009 to 2013. In nominating him, President Obama said, “Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I’m asking to lead the Department of Transportation.”
As Secretary of Transportation, LaHood led an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget, and was responsible for overseeing all air, maritime and surface transportation modes. During his tenure, safety was LaHood’s number one priority and he is best known for his pioneering work to fight distracted driving.
Apart from Secretary LaHood’s achievements at the helm of the Department of Transportation, he has set an example for bipartisanship and leadership in Washington. As a lifelong Republican, Secretary LaHood worked across party lines and frequently reminded partisans that, “there is no such thing as a Democratic road or a Republican bridge.”
Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood served from 1995-2009 in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 18th District of Illinois, the same district once served by President Abraham Lincoln. In Congress, he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and, after that, on the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to his election to the House, he served as Chief of Staff to U.S. House Republican Leader Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District, and as District Administrative Assistant to Congressman Thomas Railsback. He also served in the Illinois State Legislature.