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In Transition: Transportation Secretary

What he offers: Through his work in the San Francisco region, Heminger befriended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who appointed him to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. The work helped Heminger cultivate congressional ties and gave him an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Transportation Department. Heminger would be an outside-the-Beltway choice for a president-elect who says he wants to bring fresh ideas to Washington.

Vetting: Not well known outside transportation circles.

Quote: "The inefficiencies and under-investment that plague the nation's transportation network aren't just about concrete, asphalt and steel. They jeopardize our national security, damage our ability to compete in a global economy and harm our enviable quality of life. We simply cannot afford to pass this problem on to the next generation. The time to act is now."

James L. Oberstar

Current job: Congressman for Minnesota's 8th District since 1975; chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Credentials: The powerful Democrat and aviation expert has served on a presidential panel that reviewed aviation safety after the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. As chairman of the transportation panel, he will write a reauthorized highway bill that will shape billions of dollars in road, bridge and transit expenditures.

What he offers: Oberstar has what admirers say is a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the federal transportation program. He has built extensive congressional ties over his House career, is well respected by road and transit industries, and was an early Obama supporter.

Vetting: Oberstar is unpopular with enthusiasts of the budding space tourism industry because he thinks the FAA should formulate minimum safety and health standards for passengers and crews aboard commercial spaceflights.

Quote: "While the U.S. transportation network remains the envy of the world, we are losing ground. Without a renewed commitment to providing the vision and leadership needed to rebuild and expand this network, congestion will worsen, goods will move more slowly, air quality will continue to deteriorate, the number of roadway fatalities and injuries will continue to stagnate, and our quality of life will be diminished."

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