She is the first Cabinet member to leave after President Donald Trump’s response to a crowd of his supporters violating the United States Capitol.
“It was the greatest honor of a lifetime to serve the United States Department of Transportation,” she tweeted on Thursday.
In a statement to the agency he led, Chao wrote that he would resign on Monday and was “deeply concerned” about events at the Capitol building.
“I am tremendously proud of the many achievements we have been able to achieve together for our country and I will never forget the commitment you have to this Department and the United States of America,” continued his statement.
She added that she will assist the designated Transport Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, to take over the department.
A veteran of Republican governments and the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Chao took office with the aim of reviving the country’s ruined infrastructure.
But a revision package to rebuild roads, bridges and highways never came, hampered by other legislative priorities, including tax cuts and health. The government unveiled a $ 1.5 trillion infrastructure plan early in the Trump administration, but the structure faced obstacles in Congress.
A succession of White House-sponsored “Infrastructure Weeks” did little to advance the cause. The term has become a joke to the government’s ability to step on its own message with unforced errors or a president prone to tweets or inflamed comments.
Chao has until then remained a zealous caretaker for the president, appearing at events at the White House and traveling around the country to see government-sponsored projects.
Unlike much of the administration, Chao came to his post with years of government experience. She served on both Bush administrations, serving as Secretary of Labor for the full eight years of President George W. Bush’s term.
Trump looked at some Bush veterans with skepticism, although he is not known to have singled out Chao specifically.
Instead, it is your husband who has at times proved to be the strange component in his relationship with Trump. The president openly discussed with the Republican leader in the Senate about legislative priorities.
Chao had already deftly navigated the fights. Next to Trump in August 2017, in the middle of a dispute between the president and McConnell about health care, she was asked what she thought of the split.
“I defend my man,” said Chao, “both.”
This story is emerging and will be updated.