USDOT Secretary Weighs in on George Floyd Protests, Economic Recovery, and Truckers
Washington D.C. – On Wednesday, United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao weighed in on the George Floyd protests for the first time since the civil unrest began more than a week ago.
In an interview with Politico, Sec. Chao called the death of 46-year-old George Floyd while in police custody “a real tragedy.”
When asked about the ongoing nationwide protests, she quickly condemned the violence and destruction that has arisen from the widespread social upheaval.
“We are divided in so many different ways, but violence is not the answer,” Chao said. “The looters and the rioters do violence to the memory of George Floyd.”
Whether she is unaware or simply chose not to discuss it, Sec. Chao did not mention the growing number of disturbing reports of rioters targeting truckers and big rigs.
Read more on the USDOT’s silence on the issue HERE.
However, she urged Americans of all races to cooperate in a spirit of unity while stressing the importance of returning to normal American life amid the ongoing state of emergency declaration due to COVID-19.
“What we need to do is to come together as a people, have legitimate dialogues about racial differences, and more than anything else, we need to get back to normalcy,” she commented.
At the top of Chao’s list of priorities is jump starting an economy that has inflicted “staggering devastation to our workforce” since the beginning of the declared health emergency.
She argued that a re-invigorated economy will help to cool racial tensions.
“We need to restore economic vitality and prosperity to our country because that I think is fueling a lot the concerns between the racial divides. We need to reopen the economy and do it safely.”
Despite the interviewers’ seeming disinterest in discussing the contribution truckers have made during the coronavirus pandemic, Chao interjected praise for America’s professional drivers.
“Truckers have done a great job. While most of us were sheltering in place, there were brave truckers and others working in the transportation sector who were ensuring that essential supplies were delivered. So I want to give a big shout out to the truckers of this country.”
She also mentioned numerous waivers and “common sensical” actions the USDOT took to provide regulatory relief to the trucking industry during the last few difficult months.
“We helped truckers in a number of ways,” she said.
Specifically, she mentioned working with state officials to allow food trucks to serve truckers at rest areas and extend driver medical card renewals.
Again, she repeated a familiar refrain she has adopted in recent months, saying truckers are “real American heroes.”
She also addressed the financial challenges the airline industry is currently facing and the Trump Administration’s decision not to require workers and passengers to wear facial coverings.
“It was originally suggested that the federal government mandate the use of masks, and then [airline] management and labor talked it over and they mutually agreed that all passengers should wear face coverings, as well as the flight crew.”
Chao explained that it is better for parties of “mutual concern” to work out their issues without the “heavy-handed” policies of the federal government.
Lastly, she discussed a potential agreement on an infrastructure spending package later this year saying “we need more money.”
“We believe very firmly that infrastructure should be a bi-partisan effort. As we go forward we will continue to talk about the need to continue to invest in our infrastructure,” she said.
WATCH the full interview below.