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Foxx gets smooth ride at confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON - Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. Transportation Secretary, has so far had an easy confirmation hearing before the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Wednesday afternoon, The Charlotte Observer's Steve Harrison reports.

Foxx has discussed issues such as the furloughing of air-traffic controllers, tolling interstates and replacing old bridges. Senators from both parties have so far praised Foxx.

Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said the hearing was a “most amazing confirmation process.” He added he has heard nothing but “kind comments.”

The mayor was introduced by N.C. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Burr said he is confident that Foxx “will serve our nation in the same way he served people of N.C. and people of Charlotte.” Burr also noted the mayor was the first African-American student body president at Davidson College, and highlighted his service as an elected official in Charlotte since 2005.

“It will be sad to see him leave Charlotte, but I am pleased the entire country will benefit,” Hagan said. She highlighted some of his transportation achievements, including planning to extend the Lynx Blue Line to University City, opening a new runway at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and helping to secure funding to finish Interstate 485.

Committee chair John D. Rockefeller IV, a Democrat of West Virginia, said has been on this committee for 20 years and has “never seen a greater press crush in my life,” referring to a gaggle of reporters and cameras covering Foxx’s hearing.

Rockefeller said he expects Foxx, if confirmed, to work on implementing the so-called Next Gen air traffic control system.

“You have a huge job in front of you,” Rockefeller said.

The committee hearing is the first step for Foxx in his quest to fill the cabinet position. During the introduction, he sat with his wife, Samara Foxx.

In his opening remarks, Foxx highlighted the city’s transportation investments that he said created jobs. Among the projects: extending light-rail; expanding the airport; finishing the outerbelt; starting the intermodal facility at the airport; and starting the uptown streetcar project.

“When I became mayor in 2009, Charlotte was facing an economic downturn and steep revenue declines,” according to the prepared remarks. “I decided to make efficient and innovate transportation investments the centerpiece of Charlotte’s job creation and economic activity efforts.”

Since Foxx was nominated in late April, he has drawn little criticism from Republicans in the Senate or conservative activists. The mayor probably will be asked about his views on funding for highways and bridges, implementing new air-traffic control systems for the Federal Aviation Administration, and the role of transit in cities.


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