WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama renewed his pitch for investment in American infrastructure on Monday as he named Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to serve as his next transportation secretary.
Obama called Foxx "one of the most effective mayors" in the country because of the city's investments in transportation and other projects that have boosted the local economy.
While Foxx has been in office, the city has broken ground on a new streetcar project for the downtown area, extended its light rail system and expanded the Charlotte airport.
"All of that has not only helped to create new jobs, it has helped Charlotte become more attractive to business," Obama said, introducing Foxx as his nominee during a ceremony in the East Room on Monday afternoon. His nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
During his first term, Obama pushed for more federal spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Now he proposes capitalizing a national infrastructure bank with $10 billion to attract private sector funding and select good projects.
But Republicans are not thrilled about what looks to them like more government stimulus spending. The idea is caught up in the ongoing partisan feud about how to cut federal debt and deficits.
Current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — a former Republican member of Congress — on Monday praised the president's approach to transportation issues and his "vision for putting people back to work, for getting the economy going."
In his remarks, Foxx acknowledged the difficult road ahead in implementing what Obama obviously sees as a top priority for the agency.
"There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system," Foxx said. "We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation's infrastructure."
Obama said Foxx starts out ahead of the game because he is widely known and respected by peers.
"One of the things that Ray taught me, in watching him do his job, is that establishing personal relationships with mayors and governors and county executives makes all the difference in the world because transportation is one of those things that it's happening on the ground," Obama said.
"The federal government's got to be responsive and has to understand what it's like when you're a mayor or a governor or a county executive trying to get these projects up and running," he said.