USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood will stick around for “a while”, according to new House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster. Politico breaks the story this morning: “Bill Shuster on Ray LaHood: Looks like he’s staying.” The news will excite many transportation stakeholders, and disappoint others.
Some of the people most excited about this news ironically were the ones most discouraged when LaHood was first appointed: “LaHood Coming to USDOT? Oh No!”
LaHood indicated back in October 2011 that he intended to leave USDOT in 2o13 after the President was reelected. Subsequently he has declined to be specific about his future plans, and has sort of backtracked from that comment. Here are some of the comments he made in October of 2011: “LaHood Will Leave USDOT in 2013.”
It’s not clear what “a while” means. And Politico reports being told by “several sources close to LaHood” that “the only way he would stay is for Obama to personally lobby him not to leave.”
It’s not hard to imagine the President doing that. For the foreseeable future the West Wing will need to focus on the fiscal cliff and the budget, and finding replacements for Secretary of State and Defense Secretary. Why not just keep a USDOT Secretary who has served you well, and avoid having to devote the time of the President and his staff on finding a compatible replacement?
Shuster’s comments in the Politico story make it sound like he’d welcome working with LaHood.