Thune to Secretary of Transportation Nominee: South Dakota Depends on Effective, Efficient Transportation System

Thune to Secretary of Transportation Nominee: South Dakota Depends on Effective, Efficient Transportation System

“Without a robust and efficient transportation sector, rural states like mine would be unable to get their goods to market.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today stressed to President-elect Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, how important that role is to South Dakota. Thune noted that there are 10,000 transportation-related jobs in South Dakota and that the state’s economy depends on an effective and efficient transportation system. Thune also suggested that a top priority for the next secretary of transportation should be safety. The agency should avoid one-size-fits all solutions and instead offer a wide range of tools to combat unique safety challenges, like South Dakota has done with its 24/7 sobriety program to combat impaired driving.

Excerpts from Thune’s prepared remarks:

On the transportation system’s importance to South Dakota’s economy:

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the transportation sector employs over 12 million people nationwide and contributes nearly $1.4 trillion to the nation’s economy, or 8.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. In my home state of South Dakota, this translates into approximately 10,000 jobs. 

“But, these numbers only begin to tell the story, because so much of our economy is dependent on a thriving transportation sector.

“For example, without a robust and efficient transportation sector, rural states like mine would be unable to get their goods to market. 

“Increasing the capacity and efficiency of our nation’s highways, rail lines, pipelines, and ports is crucial, and will have to be a top priority for the next Secretary of Transportation.”

On the need for safety:

“While our nation’s pipelines, railroads, airways, and highways have a strong record of safety, improvements can and should be made. 

“Of course, it will be important to avoid one-size-fits all solutions on safety. 

“Instead, the Department must offer a range of tools to combat unique safety challenges, as South Dakota has done with its innovative 24/7 sobriety program to combat impaired driving.

“Many of the strong safety improvements this Committee advanced as part of the FAST Act and PIPES Act last Congress are yet to be implemented, and we will expect our next Secretary of Transportation to work with us to ensure speedy implementation. 

“We will also have the opportunity to collaborate on safety improvements when we revisit the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration later this year.”

On Elaine Chao’s nomination to serve as secretary of transportation:

“To my colleagues, I would say that, if you were to imagine an ideal candidate to tackle these challenges, it would be hard to come up with a more qualified nominee than the one before us. 

“In addition to serving for eight years as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Secretary Chao has also served as the Deputy Secretary of the department she’s now been tapped to lead. 

“Her extensive experience also includes leading the United Way of America, the Peace Corps, and the Federal Maritime Commission. 

“Secretary Chao, you have consistently proven your willingness to roll up your sleeves and address the challenges facing our nation.

“I would like to thank you for testifying today and for your willingness to continue your record of service to the country.” 

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