LaHood, Solis to Speak at Congressional City Conference

by Leslie Wollack and Cyndy Liedtke Hogan

Transportation Secretary Raymond H. "Ray" LaHood and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis have agreed to speak to local officials at NLC's upcoming Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., during a general session on Monday, March 12.

LaHood is expected to offer his insights on efforts underway to reauthorize the federal surface transportation program, as well as tools to finance transportation infrastructure. Solis is expected to speak about the Administration's views on how to accelerate economic growth and reduce unemployment, as well as the Department of Labor's approach to reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act.

LaHood will address local officials as Congress continues to wrangle over reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation programs. The current federal transportation program expires on March 31. The House and Senate are debating very different versions of long-term legislation for the program. (See related story.)

Solis' speech will also be timely, as job creation and the unemployment rate are big issues for the nation, the Administration and cities and towns. 

Secretary LaHood

Image removed.Serving his seventh term representing the 18th District of Illinois, LaHood was among the first officials named to the Obama Administration. He pledged to bring Obama's priorities to the department and see them effectively implemented with a commitment to fairness across regional and party lines and between people who come to the issues with different perspectives.

Secretary LaHood's primary goals in implementing President Obama's priorities for transportation include safety across all modes, restoring economic health and creating jobs and sustainability, as well as shaping the economy of the coming decades by building new transportation infrastructure and assuring that transportation policies focus on people and communities who use the transportation system.

As a Congressman, LaHood was known for his strong Republican roots and a proven ability to work across the aisle. As veteran of the Appropriations and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees, LaHood embraced federal investment as a way to spur economic growth. In the House, LaHood had been closely involved in efforts to improve the Illinois transportation network, securing money for major highway construction and airport expansion.

While much of his career has been spent at the federal level, LaHood is no stranger to local transportation concerns. Early in his career, he was chief planner for a regional agency that dealt with transit and housing issues for a five-county area along the Illinois-Iowa border. He also served in the Illinois State Legislature.

Secretary Solis

Image removed.Solis was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009. Prior to becoming Secretary of Labor, Secretary Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California from 2001 - 2009.

In Congress, Solis' priorities included expanding access to affordable health care, protecting the environment and improving the lives of working families. A recognized leader on clean energy jobs, she authored the Green Jobs Act, which provided funding for "green collar" job training for veterans, displaced workers, at-risk youth and individuals in families under 200 percent of the federal poverty line. 

A nationally recognized leader on the environment, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues. Her California environmental justice legislation, enacted in 1999, was the first of its kind in the nation to become law.

Solis was first elected to public office in 1985 as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College Board of Trustees. She served in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1994, and made history in 1994 by becoming the first Latina elected to the California State Senate. As the chairwoman of the California Senate Industrial Relations Committee, she led the battle to increase the state's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour in 1996. She also authored a record 17 state laws aimed at combating domestic violence.

Congressional City Conference

Other general session speakers for the conference include Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former counselor to President George W. Bush, and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former chairman of Hillary Clinton for President, who will discuss the 2012 election, and David Brooks, op-ed columnist for The New York Times and commentator on "The PBS Newshour."

The Congressional City Conference gets underway on Saturday, March 10, with Leadership Training Institute seminars and other NLC meetings. General sessions and workshops on issues important to cities will take place March 12 and 13. 

In addition to the general sessions, workshops and seminars, the Congressional City Conference will include a number of opportunities to network with other local officials, engage with NLC's corporate programs and learn about and attend meetings of NLC's various committees and councils.

Wednesday, March 14, is dedicated to lobbying for city interests on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies.

Check the Congressional City Conference page for the latest conference information and to register, saving $100 off the on-site rate.