Obama: 'Every American who travels' should thank LaHood for DOT work

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LaHood, who was a long-term Republican congressman from Illinois before assuming the DOT post, announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down from Obama's Cabinet.

"I have let President Obama know that I will not serve a second term as secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation," LaHood said in a statement released by the DOT on Tuesday. "I plan to stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth transition for the department and all the important work we still have to do."

Obama, who was a member of the Illinois congressional delegation with LaHood before appointing him to be Transportation secretary, said he also wanted to "thank Ray for his friendship."

"Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent," Obama said. "And Ray has never wavered in that belief ... I am grateful to Ray for everything he’s done, and I wish him only the best going forward."

LaHood was one of two Republicans that were appointed to Cabinet positions by Obama in his first term. He was joined by former Defense Bob Gates, who was a holdover from former President George W. Bush's administration. Obama has also nominated former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) to be his next secretary of Defense.