Ray LaHood life and biography

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Ray LaHood biography

Date of birth : 1945-12-06
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-06-25
Credited as : Politician and Legislator, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Obama administration

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Ray LaHood (also known as: Ray H. LaHood) born December 6, 1945 in Peoria, Illinois, United States is an American politician and legislator.

Republican Congressman Ray LaHood was elected for the third time to the 106th Congress on November 3, 1998, running unopposed for reelection as the representative for the 18th District of Illinois. In December of 1998, LaHood, known for his evenhandedness, parliamentary knowledge, and bipartisanism, accepted the role of overseeing the historic debate in the House of Representatives to consider the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Although many American viewers of C-SPAN, a cable television news channel, recognize LaHood as a regular guest speaker, the Illinois congressman gained even more prominence when he was chosen to preside over the United States House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of President Clinton, who stood accused of lying under oath and obstructing justice. "This is going to go into the history books," LaHood told Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service. "To be able to preside over these proceedings is probably one of the one things I'll remember most of the whole time I'll be in Congress. . . I hope that people will say it was done with dignity and respect, that the proceedings dignified the House." In fact, LaHood has probably spent more hours chairing the House of Representatives since 1995 than any other member of Congress. He is among a trusted handful of Republicans called upon to preside during debates where opposition between parties would likely occur. Some of the highly charged arguments presided over by LaHood include the debate of the "Contract With America," when newly elected Republicans confronted Democrats who felt bitter over loosing congressional seats, as well as when the House debated the issue of late-term abortion. "Ray is a real student of the institution," said one congressional aide to Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service. "He understands the floor dynamic and that without guidance it can spin out of control. He understands when to turn down the volume." For his fair conducting throughout the proceedings, LaHood received high praise from the media, his constituents, and fellow representatives for his services. The Chicago Tribune noted of LaHood, "he has established himself as one of the more principled members of the Illinois delegation."

Education and Early Career

LaHood, the grandson of an immigrant from Lebanon and the son of a restaurant manager, was born on December 6, 1945, in Peoria, Illinois. His parents, Edward and Mary (Vogel) LaHood, raised their son in the Catholic faith. He attended Spalding Institute high school, Canton Junior College, and Bradley University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Education and Sociology in 1971.

Following graduation from Bradley, LaHood spent six years teaching junior high school in both Catholic and public schools. Moving to Rock Island, Illinois, he accepted positions as the chief planner for the Bi-State Metropolitan Commission, director of the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau, and district administrative assistant for Congressman Tom Railsback. In 1982, LaHood won a seat in the Illinois State House of Representatives, serving District 36. After his stint as a state representative, LaHood in 1982 joined the office of United States House Republican Leader Robert Michel as district administrative assistant and, for four years, chief of staff. He succeeded Michel upon his retirement in January of 1995.

House of Representatives

LaHood won election for the first time in 1994 as a member of the 104th Congress. According to LaHood's official web site, Congressional Quarterly chose LaHood as one of the "freshman to watch" during his first term in 1995-1996. As a member of Congress, LaHood serves on several committees, including the House Committee on Agriculture, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His service activities include the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University; Congressional Board of Advisors for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council; former president of the Illinois State Society; former president of the Spalding Institute and Notre Dame High School Boards; service on the boards of the Children's Hospital, Peoria Area Retarded Citizens, and the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross; former president of Bradley University National Alumni Board; the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; the Economic Development Council Board of Directors; the ITOO Society; and the Downtown Rotary Club of Peoria. In addition, LaHood is an original member of the Illinois Lt. Governor's Illinois River Strategy Team and the Heartland Water Resources Council; his membership to these associations illustrate his belief in preserving the Illinois River, one of his top priorities.

In addition to moderating debates on the House floor, LaHood worked to promote civility among members of both parties. Along with David Skaggs, a Democrat from Colorado, LaHood in 1997 organized the Congressional Bipartisan Committee and planned a biennial getaway for House members in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Though this retreat, the two congressmen hoped that Republican and Democrat members and their families would get to know each other and act with more civility during House proceedings. Skaggs told Nation's Cities Weekly that they would like for politicians to participate in arguments while maintaining "some minimum regard for each other and some minimum respect for each other's motives." La Hood added that people can disagree and still "listen to one another." The retreat appeared to be somewhat of a success, as participants left the "Hershey summit" on more friendly terms.

Personal Life

Lahood married Kathy Dunk in 1967, and the couple had four children: Darin, Amy, Sam, and Sara. The family resides in Peoria, while LaHood commutes to Washington when Congress is in session.


Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Chamber of Commerce's Spirit of Enterprise award; the Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture award; the Guardian of Small Business award from the National Federation of Independent Business.

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