|| Raymond H. LaHood (born December 6, 1945) is a Republican politician from Illinois who is currently the United States Secretary of Transportation, having served since 2009. Previously, he represented the Illinois’s 18th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms (1995–2009).
On December 19, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he would nominate Ray LaHood to be the next Transportation Secretary. LaHood’s résumé on transport matters was considered thin by some critics, including the Wall Street Journal despite the fact that he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee he won praise for his “skills as an arbiter” in being able to bridge sometimes bitter partisan divides in the Congress, something the position would require. Some critics alleged a reputation for pork barrel spending, including in support of campaign contributors. The Washington Post reported that of the $60 million in earmarks LaHood secured for his district in 2008, $9 million went to campaign donors.
His nomination was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on January 21, 2009. He was, with Robert Gates, one of two Republican members of the Obama Cabinet.
On February 3, 2010, LaHood was criticized for advice he was asked to give while testifying before a congressional committee regarding Toyota’s recall of 2.3 million vehicles due to sudden acceleration, wherein he suggested Toyota owners stop driving their cars. LaHood qualified his statement within an hour and a half of his testimony, spelling out that he meant “owners of any recalled Toyota models (should) contact their local dealer and get their vehicles fixed as soon as possible.”
Ray LaHood is a supporter of airline passenger rights to facilities, food and water during lengthy on-aircraft delays. He is also a strong proponent of high-speed rail, saying “This is what the American people want. If you build it, they will come.”
LaHood plans to step down as transportation secretary at the end of Obama’s first term in 2013. He will not seek any public office after that, and instead enter the private sector.
On December 6, 2011, Secretary LaHood accepted the resignation of FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who was charged with drunk driving near his Washington home.