Your Jan. 11 Pre-Trip: Getting to know Transportation Secretary Chao

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s hearing begins

Referred to as the “most normal” of president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, Elaine Chao today starts confirmation hearings for transportation secretary. And Curbed has compiled a list of what it believes the public should know about Chao. According to the report, Chao was the first Asian American woman appointed to any presidential cabinet when she became labor secretary under George W. Bush. She is the immigrant daughter of a shipping entrepreneur who started a freight company in New York City. And, according to the report, Chao’s records show she’s in favor of looser regulations and shifting more responsibility to states. Curbed has more on Chao.

2. Trucking, rail industries lobby to limit new regulations

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the trucking and rail industries have teamed up to press the incoming Trump administration to limit the ability of transportation regulators to write new rules. Group leaders are looking to reverse Obama administration safety initiatives and slow the process for enacting new regulations, according to the report. WSJ continues on to say that the effort is part of a push lobbyists are making in preparation for the “prospect of business-friendly policy changes with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress.”

3. VW ‘ready’ to plead guilty in emissions cheating scandal

UPI reports that Volkswagen is ready to plead guilty and pay $4.3 billion in fines over its emissions cheating scandal. This week VW said a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and Customs and Border Protection has been negotiated. According to UPI, the agreement still requires approval by VW executives and includes a guilty plea to criminal charges. The settlement comes after VW admitted it equipped up to 11 million vehicles with software that enabled them to produce inaccurate air pollution test readings.

4. GM reports strong outlook for 2017

MarketWatch reports General Motors forecasts that pretax earnings this year should beat the record profits it expects to post for 2016. Based on that outlook, GM approved a $5 billion share repurchase. According to the report, GM said the forecast is based on continued strength in North America and resilient demand in China.

5. Tesla hires Apple software engineer

Tesla announced it has hired Apple software engineer Chris Lattner to oversee its Autopilot self-driving software efforts. CNBC reports that Lattner, who served at Apple for more than 10 years, announced he would leave Apple later this month. Autopilot is the system on Tesla vehicles that allows self-driving in some situations, but still requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

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