Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appears to be on a smooth course for confirmation as the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation. He fielded mostly friendly questions from a Senate Committee today and could be confirmed by the full Senate in a matter of weeks.
Foxx spent the last few weeks in a crash course on transportation department structure and lingo. And he's been meeting the senators who must approve his nomination, so he had a pretty good idea what they'd ask during his confirmation hearing.
Foxx was unflustered - and eager to please. Nearly every member of the committee extracted at least one commitment from him.
He promised to reduce bureaucracy in the transportation department and make the grant process more transparent: "I will tell you my goal – if confirmed as secretary of transportation – would be to be as open and transparent as possible."
He promised to do better a job planning for – and implementing - budget cuts like sequestration "It will be my goal to do an effective job of working within the administration and working with this Congress to have a 'no surprises' result."
He pledged to make Northeast railroads a priority – and to make the site of a recent commuter train derailment in Connecticut one of his first visits on the job: "I would look forward to it."
Foxx promised to visit Minnesota and Massachusetts too. And to make road safety a priority. And update the nation's air traffic control system. And find new ways to fund the nation's aging road system.
And . . . well, let's just hope Foxx had someone keeping track of all the promises he managed to make in just over 90 minutes.
The senators seemed unfazed by Foxx's relative lack of experience with transportation policy or Washington personalities.
"I think mayors have a sense of knowing on the front line what's going on and we need that in a transportation secretary," said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
The hearing ended with a sober message from Democratic Chairman John Rockefeller of West Virginia. He wondered if maybe Charlotte's mayor had over-promised.
"You know, doing all the things that you have been asked to do – they're gonna cost money," said Rockefeller, adding that money's hard to come by in the current political climate.
"I hope that you will push us – goad us" to give you what you need, said Rockefeller and then told Foxx he seemed destined to "ride the fast rail" into the President's cabinet.