Trump picks Elaine Chao for transportation secretary

Elaine Chao to be nominated as Transportation Secretary

Donald Trump has picked Elaine Chao to head the Department of Transportation.

"Secretary Chao's extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner," the president-elect said in a Tuesday statement. "She has an amazing life story and has helped countless Americans in her public service career. I am pleased to nominate Elaine as Secretary of the Department of Transportation."

Chao said in a statement that she is honored by the nomination.

"The President-elect has outlined a clear vision to transform our country's infrastructure, accelerate economic growth and productivity, and create good paying jobs across the country," she said in a statement. "I am honored to be nominated by the President-elect to serve my beloved country as Transportation Secretary."

Chao, secretary of labor during George W. Bush's administration, was the first Asian-American woman appointed to a president's Cabinet. She was the only member of his original Cabinet to serve for his entire term.

If confirmed, Chao would be the second person married to a Senate Republican leader to have served as transportation secretary and labor secretary. Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole was the first.

Chao's husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said in a statement, "I am so proud of Elaine as she continues her accomplished career in public service. I am confident she will do an outstanding job for the nation in this new and important role."

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Chao is an "outstanding choice" and applauded Trump for nominating her.

"She is a conservative reformer with unrivaled experience and a great passion for improving the lives of working families. We will be particularly fortunate to have Elaine leading the charge as we work to ensure America has the infrastructure needed to keep our economy moving in the 21st century," Ryan said in a statement.

Chao's father, Dr. James Chao, chairman of The Foremost Group, founded the international shipping company in 1964. Elaine Chao's sister, Angela, is the deputy chairman of Foremost.

This story is developing. Please check back for further updates.

— NBC News and CNBC's John Harwood and Lori Ann LaRocco contributed to this report.