At Monday’s ceremony, Foxx pledged to do his best to uphold the standards set by LaHood, who was popular among Republicans and Democrats.
“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, air field or railroad. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure,” Foxx said.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, led by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, R-W.Va., is expected to hold the confirmation hearings. Rockefeller cited the country’s “daunting transportation challenges” and said he planned to move Foxx’s nomination to the committee as soon as possible.
Foxx probably also will be questioned about his lack of direct transportation experience. While he’s played a role in supporting or leading the transportation initiatives that the White House has praised him for helping to create, the planning for Charlotte’s highly praised light-rail line began under the previous mayor, Republican Pat McCrory, who’s now North Carolina’s governor.
In addition, there’s controversy over the city’s handling of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the world’s sixth-busiest based on takeoffs and landings and a hub for US Airways. The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would shift control of the airport from the city to an independent authority, a move that’s angered Foxx.
Those issues might become fodder for several Republican committee members who are considered hard-line conservatives on budget matters, among them Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Marco Rubio of Florida.
The committee’s top Republican, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who’s also a member of the Senate leadership, said he looked forward to reviewing Foxx’s record and ensuring a “fair and thorough” confirmation process.
“Without question, our nation faces a number of transportation challenges that will require strong leadership and effective communication with Congress to keep our nation moving," he said in a statement.
Obama had received some criticism within the African-American community for not appointing any African-Americans to his second-term Cabinet. Attorney General Eric Holder currently is the only African American who’s leading a Cabinet department.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent Obama a blunt letter last month expressing the group’s displeasure with his picks. On Monday she praised the choice of Foxx as someone who’s helped managed an area that’s experienced tremendous growth.
“Anthony will surely be an asset to the president’s Cabinet and to this nation,” she said.
The president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, said Foxx would bring a “wealth of experience” to the job.
Foxx has the backing of several transportation industry groups, including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and AAA. The trade group Airlines for America urged a quick confirmation.
“He has the experience, and he knows the value” of infrastructure investments, said Patrick Natale, the executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which provides grades on the country’s infrastructure. “Somebody who knows the value can at least weigh the challenges of funding versus tight budgets.” Lesley Clark in Washington and Charlotte Observer staff writer Steve Harrison in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.