U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned from her post on Thursday in the wake of Wednesday’s attack by violent extremists on the Capitol, fueled by President Donald Trump.
Chao shared the news on her Twitter account, stating that Wednesday’s attack was “traumatic and entirely avoidable.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates operation of drones that weigh 250 grams or more, is an operating mode of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
And the U.S. drone industry has transformed dramatically under Chao’s leadership. In 2017, Secretary Elaine Chao launched the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, an initiative to test drone operations including night flights, flights over people and flying drones beyond visual line of sight. Under her leadership, the FAA created a “Women in Aviation Advisory Board,” to which Chao named 30 women as board members.
Chao is the first Trump Cabinet member to quit in light of Wednesday’s attack, though a number of other key Trump administration officials, including top aides, economic and national security advisors have also resigned.
Chao was set to leave her position this month anyway, as President-elect Biden in December 2020 named Pete Buttigieg as his nominee to be Secretary of Transportation.
Chao is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the President’s cabinet in American history, and has held positions including U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to January 2009. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who notably deeply angered Trump by refusing to block Biden’s confirmation as President.