LaHood Optimistic about Bipartisan Cooperation in 2011

Points to debt reduction, transportation funding, and war in Afghanistan as areas where the Obama Administration and Congressional Republicans can find common ground

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a speech this morning to The Ripon Society, former GOP Congressman and current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed optimism that both parties will be able to work together in the wake of the mid-term elections. He also pointed to three areas – deficit reduction, transportation funding, and the war in Afghanistan — where, he believes, the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress will be able to find common ground. 

“President Obama does believe in bipartisanship,” LaHood stated. “I’m an example of it. The President during the 21 months that I’ve been in this job continues to reach out to Republicans. I think he will continue to do that. I think he realizes that’s the only way we get things done here in Washington.” In that regard, LaHood, who represented the 18th District of Illinois in the House of Representatives for 14 years before being appointed the Nation’s 16th Transportation Secretary in January 2009, added that the final recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Reform Commission could provide a foundation on which an agreement to reduce the Nation’s $13 trillion debt is based.

“I think the President will take them seriously,” he said of the Commission’s recommendations, which are scheduled to be released after Thanksgiving. “And I think the leaders in Congress will too. That’s what this election was about. I think the President is willing to roll up his sleeves and sit down with the new leadership of Congress and really work hard on this idea of how do we really begin to pay down our debt.”

“I think another area where the President wants to work with Congress in a bipartisan way is on transportation issues,” LaHood continued. Noting the many times during his years in Congress that both parties worked together on the issue, he observed: “Transportation has never been a partisan issue. And I can tell you this – the President is not going to make it a partisan issue. I don’t believe the leaders of Congress will either – particularly given the fact that in transportation you can actually put people to work. You can put money out there in all the different sectors of transportation. And you can really begin to jump start the economy.”

The third area where LaHood thought the White House and Congressional Republicans could find common ground was in national security. “I think the President will also get support from the new leadership in Congress and the new Members of the House on what is going on in Afghanistan,” he declared. “So this idea that there aren’t any issues or aren’t any opportunities [for working together], I think there are on some very significant issues – and there may be others.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 — Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.