January 12, 2017

Senator Duckworth Discusses Illinois Infrastructure Priorities With Transportation Secretary Nominee Elaine Chao


WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) questioned Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao during Chao's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. The hearing was Duckworth's first as a Senator. Duckworth reiterated her commitment to working with Secretary Chao, if she is confirmed, to support infrastructure projects and create good-paying jobs across Illinois that cannot be outsourced. Video of Duckworth's remarks is available here.

"I was pleased to use my first Senate hearing today to discuss the need for infrastructure investments to create good-paying jobs across the state of Illinois," said Senator Duckworth. "I appreciated Secretary Chao's willingness to look into reversing or reforming the Department's recent Metropolitan Planning Organization Consolidation rule, which threatens to disrupt important transportation projects in Illinois and throughout the Midwest, which would be disastrous. I'd also like the Department of Transportation to preserve a program that supports minority and women-owned small businesses. Allowing women and minority-owned businesses to bid on DoT contracts is very important to me and it is vital in rural areas of Illinois as well as in cities like Chicago and East St. Louis."

The Metropolitan Planning Organization rule Duckworth referenced could radically change the way transportation funding is spent in Northeastern Illinois. It would require metropolitan planning agencies to merge with their counterparts in neighboring states if they share a common census area, which would have the effect of requiring any federal transportation funding in the Chicago area to be approved by the governors of Indiana and Wisconsin. Unless the rule is blocked or reformed, it will add an unnecessary hurdle to the way infrastructure spending is approved, potentially disrupting or delaying important transportation projects in the Chicago area.

Earlier this week, Senator Duckworth met with Secretary Chao, where they both committed to work together if she is confirmed to advance the best interests of the state of Illinois. Photos and b-roll of their meeting are available here.