NRF Cites ‘Incredible History, Knowledge and Experience’

WASHINGTON - The National Retail Federation supported confirmation of former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as the new head of the Department of Transportation in a letter sent today to the Senate.

“The next secretary of transportation must address ongoing issues of infrastructure funding while ensuring that our transportation systems are truly state-of-the-art and able to handle expected increases in freight flows,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French wrote. “Mrs. Chao has an incredible history, knowledge and experience within the transportation industry and we think she is perfectly suited to be the next secretary.”

French said Chao “has the background and experience to address some of the key supply chain issues facing our nation and our global competitiveness,” citing her previous posts as deputy secretary of transportation, deputy administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration and chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission.

French said the Transportation Department is important to retailers because merchants are among the nation’s largest shippers, moving hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise through the nation’s ports, rail lines, and highways each year.

“The condition of this interconnected supply chain and its ability to move freight quickly, efficiently and safely are vital to retailers’ businesses, as well as those of American manufacturers, agricultural producers and the millions of workers they employ,” French said.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee began Chao’s confirmation hearing this morning.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.