Obama transition aides visit DOT
A “parachute team” from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition staff landed at the Department of Transportation on Monday to begin a crash course about transportation programs in preparation for a handover of power.
Joel Szabat, deputy assistant secretary of transportation, was unable to attend the Transcomp freight transportation conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because the Obama team arrived at DOT headquarters to begin the review process. Szabat spoke to a panel instead via conference call.
Obama’s transportation review team is lead by:
' Mortimer Downey, a transportation consultant who served twice at the department in the Carter and Clinton administrations.
' Jane Garvey, head of public/private partnerships at JP Morgan Chase who was a Federal Aviation Administrator under President Clinton.
' Michael Huerta, president of ACS Transportation Solutions.
Downey and Garvey’s names are being circulated in Washington as possible candidates to be secretary of transportation.
The Obama team’s goal is to pull together all the policy information within a month so that if a nominee for secretary is named by December the individual could move fast to prepare for Senate confirmation proceedings and the new job, Szabat said.
In a related matter, news outlets including Politico.com indicated that differences between Republicans and Democrats are reducing the chances for a first installment economic stimulus bill being completed in the lame duck session of Congress. House leaders have resigned themselves to pursuing an economic recovery plan during the next session of Congress when Obama is president. That means billions of dollars in infrastructure spending that were being considered as part of the package will be deferred until the subject is addressed early next year.
One of the apparent stumbling blocks is President Bush’s insistence that Congress approve a free trade agreement with Colombia in exchange for a jobs bill. The Colombia deal is hung up in Congress because of objections to the treatment of union organizers in Colombia.
The Transcomp conference is a joint production of the National Industrial Transportation League, the Intermodal Association of North America and the Transportation Intermediaries Association. ' Eric Kulisch