Politics in Transportation

So far, the list of potential replacements includes Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman. Regardless, Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) believes the selection will be more about political points than anything else.

LaHood, for instance, was the only Republican nominated to President Obama's original cabinet.

"Transportation … often people don't get very excited about it," Scribner admits, "but I would like to hear tough questions for any potential incoming [Department of] Transportation secretary on these sort of livability programs: The Highway Trust Fund is going broke, yet we are spending money on bike trails and wider sidewalks and all sorts of other things. I'd also like to see his or her thoughts on the high-speed rail program as initially envisioned by the Obama administration and on how it might move forward."

Scribner is also curious about how the next DOT secretary might implement the most recent highway law through regulatory rule makings.

Even so, he has his doubts that the issues would ever come up in a confirmation hearing.

"Most of the questions are going to be softballs, and I don't expect much controversy in confirming a new Transportation secretary," the analyst concludes.