U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx after naming him to replace Ray LaHood as U.S. Transportation Secretary in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)
President Obama is delivering on his promise to nominate a more diverse second-term cabinet. Today he announced Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as his pick for Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx, who will be 42 tomorrow, is the youngest mayor in Charlotte's history, as well as only the second African-American elected to the position. His fur-year tenure hasn't been particularly heavy on transportation projects, but he did spearhead several initiatives to reinstate the city's streetcar service, widen highways and fund light rail. He's also a strong proponent of alternative transportation like biking and electric vehicles.
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In addition, Foxx was instrumental in bringing the 2012 Democratic National Convention to is city, so he has plenty of support from Democrats. Fortunately for him, he doesn't have much opposition from Republicans.
He doesn't have a huge record that Senate Republicans can use to disqualify him, which may be one of the main reasons he was nominated in the first place. Obama had a habit of picking extremely talented but divisive figures (or figures who became divisive as part of the Senate political maneuverings) that were ultimately unsuccessful in making it through the arduous confirmation process.
Still, any opposition to Foxx is likely to be bluster, as it's not worth it to Republicans to spend political capital to block a relatively low-key nomination, even one that will likely result in more funding for mass transit and alternative fuels.
If confirmed, Foxx will be the second African-American member of the cabinet, alongside Attorney General Eric Holder. Obama had wanted to nominate former Deputy Secretary of State Susan Rice, an African-American woman, to replace Hillary Clinton earlier this year, but Senate Republicans blocked that move.
The current cabinet lineup includes two Asian-Americans: Secretary of Veterans Affairs General Eric Shinseki and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
There are also three women serving: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.