What the Senate Should Ask Transportation Secretary-Designee Elaine Chao

Transportation Secretary-Designee Elaine Chao | Image: J Curnow/Flickr

As the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation — which includes Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) — prepares for Wednesday’s nomination hearing for Elaine Chao, President-elect Trump’s Secretary of the Department of Transportation designee, here are some questions we hope they’ll consider asking:

  • What are the public policy goals of an infrastructure plan financed by private sector investment?
  • How do you propose to raise money from the private sector for other modes of transportation besides highways?
  • The Highway Trust Fund spends more than the revenue received. How do you intend to address the diminishing revenue of HTF?
  • USDOT’s successful TIGER program has granted millions of dollars for innovative port, roadway, transit and other multi-modal projects throughout the United States. Will TIGER be reauthorized and funding levels increased in 2017 and beyond?
  • The Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts and Small Starts programs help fund light rail, commuter rail, metro rail, bus and streetcar projects. Given the demand for these types of projects across the country, will these programs be reauthorized in 2017 and beyond?
  • The Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program has enabled railroads across the country to implement modernization and maintenance projects. Will this loan program be reauthorized on the same terms?
  • Traffic deaths jumped 8 percent in 2015, and early 2016 numbers indicate a continued increase. Last year, USDOT launched the Road to Zero program with the goal of ending fatalities on the nation’s roads within the next 30 years. Under your leadership, will USDOT continue to fund Road to Zero and other programs aimed at eliminating traffic deaths?
  • And, just for fun — though we might learn a lot from her response — what traffic sign do you feel best encapsulates your leadership style and why?

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