Bipartisanship took center stage as President Barack Obama announced Monday his pick to replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican former congressman who ran the department for Obama's first term.
Obama, who tapped Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat, for the post, praised LaHood for his work to help expand modern rail service and public safety during his tenure.
"What always brought Ray and I together was a shared belief that those of us who serve in public service owe our allegiance not to party but to the people who elected them to represent them," said Obama, who first became friends with LaHood, who is from Illinois, when the two worked together in the state's congressional delegation.
Calling Foxx "one of the most effective mayors that Charlotte has ever seen," Obama said he picked the 41-year-old mayor because of the steps he had taken to improve Charlotte's infrastructure system since being elected in 2009. Obama also helped refute accusations his second-term cabinet would be less diverse than his first by selecting Foxx, an African-American.
"Since Anthony took office, they've broken ground on a new street car project that's going to bring modern electric tram service to the downtown area, they've expanded the international airport and they're extending the city's light rail system," Obama said. "All of that has not only helped to create new jobs, it's helped Charlotte become more attractive to business."
Foxx also mentioned the importance of bipartisanship during his remarks.
"There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system," he said. "We must work together and across the aisle to enhance this nation's infrastructure."
Transportation, more than many other political issues, tends to be an area of agreement between the two parties.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, raised no major concerns in a statement released following Obama's announcement.
"I look forward to reviewing Mayor Foxx's record and working with Chairman Rockefeller to ensure the confirmation process is fair and thorough," Thune said. "Without question, our nation faces a number of transportation challenges that will require strong leadership and effective communication with Congress to keep our nation moving."
Outgoing Transportation Secretary LaHood said he was proud to leave behind a legacy of working to make cars more fuel efficient, expand rail and work to improve public safety, moves to curb distracted driving and the use of phones while driving.
"The president and I did not share a political party," LaHood said. "But what we did share while we served in Congress from Illinois was a friendship."
Foxx will face a Senate committee hearing and vote before the full Senate votes on his nomination.