Obama Says Nominee Foxx to Press Transportation Agenda

President Barack Obama said Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx will press ahead as transportation secretary with the administration’s goals to rebuild and expand the nation’s infrastructure.

Obama today said he’s nominating Foxx, 41, to replace Ray LaHood, a Republican who has led the Transportation Department since the start of the president’s first term.

Foxx has been “one of the most effective mayors Charlotte has ever seen” and the city’s resurgence is due, in part, to his emphasis on investments in transportation projects, Obama said at the White House.

Foxx’s nomination, which is subject to Senate confirmation, comes as Obama is rounding out his second-term Cabinet. He also is close to filling two key positions on his economic team by choosing Mike Froman, currently the deputy national security adviser for international economics, as U.S. trade representative and Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Obama won re-election with majority support from women and minorities and has been under pressure from some advocacy groups to reflect the diversity of his political coalition in his Cabinet. Foxx is black.

Cabinet Diversity

“The president believes that diversity is very important because diversity in his Cabinet and among his top advisers improves the decision-making process,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said today. “What you will see is a Cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country and reflects the quality of people who are willing to serve their country in these important positions.”

Foxx, a Democrat, was elected to a second term as mayor in 2011. He served as a member of Charlotte’s city council from 2005 to 2009. He also practiced law with the firm of Hunton & Williams LLP.

Charlotte broke ground on the Charlotte Streetcar Project, to bring modern electric tram service to the city, as well as the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility, connecting freight from Charlotte to global ports, according to background provided by the White House. The city opened a third parallel runway at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and moved to extend the LYNX light-rail system to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Local Connections

Obama said Foxx’s relationship with mayors and state officials around the country will be vital to fulfilling the administration’s transportation agenda.

Marie Lopez Rogers, president of the National League of Cities, called Foxx an excellent choice to head the transportation department.

“He brings a local government perspective to the position and truly understands the role that local government plays in implementing federal policy,” Rogers, a Democrat and the mayor of Avondale, Arizona, said in a statement.

Obama said with the economy as the nation’s top priority, modernizing the U.S. transportation grid is a key component of restoring job growth.

“Congress has to step up, fund these projects,” he said.

Obama also lauded LaHood, 67, as “an outstanding public servant and a model” for bipartisan cooperation.

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