Obama to name Anthony Foxx as Transportation Secretary

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Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx will be nominated Monday by President Obama to become the new Secretary of Transportation, according to a White House official.

Foxx, 41, will replace former congressman Ray Lahood (R-Ill.), who was one of a handful of Republicans President Obama picked for his first-term cabinet. Foxx will be the first African-American to be selected for a cabinet post in Obama’s second term, although Susan Rice (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) and Eric Holder (Attorney General) are remaining in their current roles.

The White House official, who declined to speak publicly as Obama will make the formal announcement, cited Foxx’s work in expanding Charlotte’s airport and light rail system in explaining the selection.

Administration officials have for months been looking for a potential role for Foxx, who was a top ally of the president in a key swing state in 2012, helped organize the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Charlotte last summer, and would add diversity to Obama’s second-term team, which has been criticized for being too dominated by white males.

And the timing is natural for Foxx, who announced earlier this month he would not seek another term as mayor of Charlotte, after being elected in 2009 and winning reelection in 2011.

Foxx is likely to be confirmed easily by the Senate, as transportation issues are traditionally not as partisan as others. He will manage an agency of more than 50,000 employees, with a budget of more than $70 billion.

While it’s not clear yet what issues Foxx will advocate in the role, President Obama is already pushing for greater expansion of light rail in states around the country, as well as increased spending on fixing highways and other infrastructure projects to both ease American travel and create jobs.

And the transportation secretary manages agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, which drew headlines this week for delayed flights which the agency attributed to furloughs of air-traffic controllers caused by the sequester.

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr