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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Ex-transportation director encourages bipartisanship

Photo by Tim Lai

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood gave a presentation at the George Bush Presidential Library Wednesday evening. 

Ray LaHood, the sixteenth secretary in the U.S. Department of Transportation, lectured at the 2015 ConocoPhillips White House Lecture Series at the Bush School Wednesday.
The lecture, hosted by Mosbacher Institute for Economics, Trade and Public Policy, focused on the challenges of governing in a highly partisan political environment and offered solutions for fostering more meaningful interaction in the White House by means of bipartisanship and compromise.
With 36 years experience in public service and myriad improvements made to many aspects of the transportation sector during his tenure, LaHood was also presented the Mosbacher Good Governance Award in commemoration of his efforts.
LaHood said through interactions with White House figures such as former President George H.W. Bush and President Barack Obama, he has learned the importance of strong, positive relationships for political progress.
“As somebody who has been in public service for almost 40 years, I think the gold standard for public service is President Bush and what he did throughout his career,” LaHood said. “This library stands as a reflection of the wonderful things he did for America and the world.”
LaHood said he knew Barack Obama from their time as members of Congress and the Senate, and discussed how they were able to build a rapport that eventually culminated in LaHood being appointed the sixteenth secretary of the Department of Transportation under Obama’s administration.
“The opportunity for the President to bring into his cabinet a real Republican — that really, I think, enabled me to continue my public service, to continue my government service and also be a part of an administration that wanted to work across the aisle and make things happen,” LaHood said.
LaHood said specific domestic issues such as immigration reform, tax reform and infrastructure reform have suffered as a result of prevalent partisan politics in Washington, and deserve attention in today’s government.
“If we had the kind of leadership where people are talking to one another, working with one another, these issues would be on the front burner,” LaHood said.
LaHood said a solution is needed, and the key is the American people requiring more of their elected officials.
“We need to get back to what made our country great,” LaHood said. “People in Washington willing to work together, willing to work in a bipartisan way, willing to compromise, willing to make a difference — not compromise on their principles but compromise in a way that reflects what the American people want. If we can do that, we can get back on track.”
LaHood said members of Congress need to hold themselves accountable to their constituents.
“Part of being a congressman or a congress-woman or a senator is coming back home and explaining to people why you did what you did,” LaHood said. “Here are the reasons for it — it’s not just going to Washington and voting, it’s coming back home and explaining to your constituents, ‘This is the reason we needed to do this.’”
Ex-transportation director encourages bipartisanshipLecture attendee Patsy Loveland said it was refreshing to hear bipartisanship being discussed in such a way when it is so often overlooked in government and the media. She said it is a skill essential to making things happen and is something that needs to be worked on.
“You know, I never hear ‘bipartisanship’ in the media, and I think the media has so much to do with separating everybody,” Loveland said. “I think that’s the whole thing. I’m glad to hear he has a relationship with the President — obviously he does, otherwise he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing — but the other thing I felt like is that the money we need for all this infrastructure is going elsewhere.”
Loveland’s husband, George Loveland, class of ’61, said while bipartisanship is something he would find difficult to engage in personally, it is important that our elected representatives practice it for the greater good of the country.
“If you’re trying to accomplish something you think is good for your people, whether it’s Texas or wherever, then I think, yes, you have to,” Loveland said. “You have to do something to come together.”

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