The American maritime industry has applauded the nomination of Elaine L. Chao as the next United States Secretary of Transportation. Chao, who most recently served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, is also a former Deputy Administrator of the DOT’s Maritime Administration, former Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission and served as Deputy Secretary of the DOT during the George H.W. Bush administration.
As the first industry representative quoted in the official news release from the Trump transition team, SIU President Michael Sacco said, “There is nobody better qualified to be Secretary of Transportation than Elaine Chao. Throughout her time in government, Elaine Chao has long been a steadfast friend to the SIU and to maritime labor. The industry has no better supporter than Elaine Chao, and she has stood up to defend the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, cargo preference and the other key programs that keep our industry alive. She understands the importance of providing jobs to America’s working families, and she has seen firsthand the value of the United States Merchant Marine to our nation’s defense and prosperity. We look forward to working with her again.”
The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) said the coalition “congratulates Secretary Elaine Chao for her nomination by President-elect Donald J. Trump to be the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation. With vast experience across the maritime industry and prior service at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, and Federal Maritime Commission, Secretary Chao understands the critical role our industry plays in advancing the nation’s economic and national security.”
Matthew Paxton, president, Shipbuilders Council of America, said his organization “applauds President-elect Donald J. Trump’s announcement of his intent to nominate Elaine Chao as the next Secretary of Transportation. Throughout her distinguished career in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, she has worked to strengthen our nation’s economy and competitiveness in a global economy. Moreover, she understands the critical nature of the Jones Act and its role in maintaining the U.S. shipyard industrial base. This industrial base is integral in order for the U.S. to build and maintain the most sophisticated and advanced vessels for our U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.”
At a U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation Dinner in 2006, Chao said, “Many good-paying jobs depend upon shipping. Our nation’s energy, goods and food are transported economically and efficiently by ship. And there are many challenges and, yes, dangers, that face the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine. But that is part of the tremendous heritage of the merchant marine…. The U.S. Merchant Marine serves our nation in war, and its role is not as greatly appreciated as it should be.”
Two years earlier, in a National Maritime Day letter, Chao noted, “The record of our merchant mariners and their contribution to our nation is long and distinguished. Their history of devoted service—in both war and peace—is an inspiration to every generation of Americans. Their tradition of courage, patriotism and perseverance has become an integral part of our nation’s heritage.”
Secretary Chao has been a familiar face at the SIU’s affiliated training school in Piney Point, Maryland, and she is the godmother of the only American-flag deep-sea cruise ship, the SIU-crewed Pride of America. She will serve as the nation’s 18th Secretary of Transportation after her confirmation by the Senate next year.
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