Looks like Ray LaHood will sail toward an easy confirmation in the Senate. Members of the Transportation Committee were congratulating him before he opened his mouth at this afternoon’s nomination hearing, which just adjourned. Here are some bullet points:
- The livable communities plank in Obama’s campaign platform didn’t make it into yesterday’s inaugural address, but it did appear in LaHood’s opening statement. One of his top four priorities would be "a strong focus on people and communities." In terms of surface transportation, he said, this means "applying the principles some call livability. I intend to make livable communities a big part of what we’re gonna do."
- Sustainability also made his list: "The transportation system must be sustainable. We must acknowledge the reality of climate change. Sustainability must permeate all we do."
- He named safety and economic growth as his top two guiding principles, saying his "primary goal will be effective implementation of President Obama’s priorities."
It’s difficult to square all this with the Obama team’s reported favoritism toward highway spending in the draft stimulus bill. I wonder if LaHood feels the cognitive dissonance too.
When it came time for questioning — a rushed process that lasted less than an hour — LaHood’s responses showed a similar lack of consistency. One minute he was repudiating earmarks and calling for decision making to be linked to performance and metrics, the next he was telling Mark Begich that he stands ready to work with the Senator on $2 billion in road work necessary to complete construction of the $40 billion Alaskan Natural Gas Pipeline.