Thank you, Admiral, and all of you. And I feel just as excited as you do about this occasion. May I thank Reverend Keller for those stirring words, as well as the Coast Guard band and the Hine Junior High chorus. And I'm pleased that so many members of the Cabinet and the Congress and the White House staff could be with us this morning. We have a nice contingent from Massachusetts led by our Lieutenant Governor, whom I don't see this minute but who is with us, over here, Paul Cellucci, and our State treasurer up there, Joe Malone; longtime friends of Andy Card's.
A special welcome to the former Secretaries who are with us; I've seen Sam Skinner and Alan Boyd, perhaps others. But it's just a great pleasure to have you all here. I know that Sam, now Chief of Staff, who served this Department -- oh, I see Bill Coleman sitting over here. Who am I missing? Let's get the former Secretaries out there. Well, I think we got it, Alan and Bill and Sam Skinner.
And as I say, I know that Sam shares my great pride for Andy Card and this wonderful family of his on this very special day. And since this is a real family affair, I think I could speak for all of us when I singled out Tabetha for singing the national anthem so beautifully. That was first-class work.
And to those of you who know our new Secretary, you know he doesn't seek the spotlight. And I promised I'd keep the pomp and circumstance to a minimum, but Andy, I should warn you, it will be necessary to spend the next few minutes saying some nice things about you. Andy is one of this town's best kept secrets, one of the best liked, most well-respected members of the team. You know the saying, ``Nice guys finish last''? Well, Leo Durocher never met Andy Card. [Laughter]
And this newest member of my Cabinet can claim a distinguished career in public service at both the national and State level. He served three tours in the White House, five terms in the Mass House of Representatives, with 6 years as a member of the house leadership there.
Transportation was one of the issues Andy gave great attention to during his time in the State legislature. Before he came to public service, he was trained and worked as a design engineer. He was talking about multimodalism or intermodalism long before it was fashionable. In fact, my first meetings with him were usually intermodal campaign experiences. [Laughter] He would pick me up at Logan Airport -- I'm not going to criticize his car, it was a Chevy Chevette -- [laughter] -- and drive me around the State. One paper called him the ``commuter's friend.'' Well, the commuter's friend has found an apt home at the Department of Transportation. And I am just totally confident that his service will prove as loyal as our friendship, as our enduring friendship.
I know Andy to be a proven leader and a talented manager, experienced, efficient, energetic, a public servant of the first order, and above all, a man who gets things done. And that's important. For this job it's not enough to know your way around inside the beltway, at DOT, or working with the people who built the beltway.
So, you've got a good leader. And Andy takes his new position at a very critical time. This Department bears primary responsibility for putting the landmark Surface Transportation Act of 1991 into action, the act that Sam, his predecessor, worked so hard on. This act is creating jobs today, jobs to upgrade our Nation's highway system, jobs to provide for mass transit and meet this country's transportation needs.
And when I signed the new Surface Act last December, it made available some billion to the States. And we directed this Department and urged the States to put those dollars to work right away. In the nearly 3 months since I signed the act, we've delivered 20 percent more highway money than during the same period a year ago.
DOT continues to play a pivotal role helping the airline industry adapt to the changes brought on by deregulation, changes which are producing economic benefits through more efficient service. DOT also has been a faithful supporter of our military and their own transportation needs. And with your energy and ability, Andy, I know that this Department will continue to ensure that the United States remains a world leader in providing safe and efficient transportation.
To meet each of these challenges, and they are big, Andy will be able to call on a really dedicated team of transportation officials in the Department. And to each and every one of you who serve over there, we are grateful to you. You exemplify the very, very best in public service. And I want to salute you along with your new Secretary.
And now, with all of that said, it is with great pleasure that I turn the podium over to Mr. Justice Thomas for the swearing-in of our new Secretary of Transportation, Andrew H. Card, Jr. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 9:04 a.m. at the National Air and Space Museum. In his remarks, he referred to Admiral James B. Busey IV, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, and Tabetha Card Mueller, daughter of Secretary Card. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath of office.