The second Republican tapped by President Obama to serve in his cabinet, Ray LaHood was confirmed to be the country's 16th Secretary of the Interior on January 23, 2009. As secretary, LaHood, 63, will play a key role in directing funding for the infrastructural improvements that are a major component of Mr. Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A moderate congressman from Peoria, Ill., LaHood came to the House as part of 1994's Republican Revolution. In Congress, LaHood presided over the House impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. He served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and developed a reputation as a proponent of pork barrel spending as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
LaHood worked as chief of staff for Rep. Robert Michel from 1990 to 1994. He also worked as a junior high school teacher, chief planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission and as the director of the Rock Island County youth services bureau. LaHood holds an undergraduate degree in education and sociology from Bradley University.