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LaHood: Cooperation, belief in government’s role needed

The Honorable Ray LaHood

(QCOnline) – Ray LaHood, the Illinois Republican who served as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of transportation, said at Augustana College here Tuesday that the gridlock in Congress will end only when more members believe government has a legitimate role.

Delivering the Curtis Family Lecture in Public Affairs, Mr. LaHood said the Tea Party faction — 40 or so Republicans — believes just the opposite. Its goal is to hinder government and “shut it down if possible,” he said.

He predicted the Tea Party, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas leading it, would continue as an influential group within the Republican Party as it splinters in the wake of the presidential election, regardless of who wins.

Mr. LaHood, as he has previously, said he will not vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who he said is hopelessly unqualified for the office. He did not say he would vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but did praise her.

“Listen to me; regardless of what you think of her, she is probably the most qualified person ever to run for president,” he said.

Mr. LaHood’s political career began in the Quad-Cities as an aide to then-U. S. Rep. Tom Railsback, R-Moline. He also served in Congress for 18 years from the 18th Congressional District based in Peoria before joining the President Obama’s Cabinet in 2009.

The theme of Tuesday’s lecture was bipartisanship and Mr. LaHood recalled, among other things, his part in putting together a Congressional weekend retreat for members of both parties and their families. He said the gatherings, which continued through much of the 90’s, fostered the cooperation that made possible, among other things, welfare reform, budget reform and two major transportation bills.

He urged the 30-40 people at the lecture to get involved in politics, which he described as “service to your friends and neighbors.”

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