The Senate unanimously confirmed Anthony Foxx as the 17th Secretary of Transportation, to replace Ray LaHood.
The 100 – 0 vote this morning concludes a smooth nomination process for the Charlotte, N.C., mayor. He was well received by Republicans as well as Democrats at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.
At age 42, Foxx will be one of the youngest cabinet officers in history and is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party after his successful bid to bring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte.
He comes to the job at a particularly daunting time for transportation. Among his other responsibilities, he will be the administration’s point man on the next highway bill, which is due October 2014.
The key question in that bill will be infrastructure funding. The Highway Trust Fund, the source of money for the federal government’s share of transportation spending, is on a path toward insolvency unless Congress raises revenues or cuts spending drastically.
“I want you to be a good secretary of transportation and you cannot do that without new revenue,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told Foxx at his confirmation hearing.
Foxx told the committee that his top priorities will be safety, improving DOT efficiency and promoting robust investment in multimodal and freight transportation. Also on his agenda: promoting environmental sustainability and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
Ray LaHood leaves DOT with a legacy for safety, particularly due to his effort to raise public awareness of the danger of distracted driving.
He used his DOT pulpit to push for legislation, rules and behavioral changes that reduce the risks associated with distraction.
His commitment was instrumental in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ban on texting and hand-held cell phones for truck drivers.
He also played a key role in passage of the 2012 highway law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, which prescribes important reforms in the federal transportation program.
And he administered distribution of the $48 billion in transportation funding under the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009.