Crain News Service and wire reports
WASHINGTON (June 28, 2013) — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved on June 27 Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx to head the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), a role held for the past four years by former U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood.
Mr. Foxx, 42, joins President Barack Obama's Cabinet after four years as mayor of the 17th-largest U.S. city and four years on the Charlotte City Council. As mayor of Charlotte, Mr. Foxx was a proponent of mass transit and so-called smart growth development, which supports providing a variety of transportation choices, but he has little experience working with the auto industry.
He now will oversee a department with about 53,000 full-time employees and more than $72 billion in budget authority. In addition, millions of Americans are employed in automotive- and transportation-related jobs that his decisions could affect.
Mr. Foxx has promised to continue Mr. LaHood's focus on safety—including a program to reduce distracted driving—while working with Congress and the transportation community to find new ways to fund highway projects and other infrastructure needs.
Mr. LaHood gave farewell remarks at the National Press Club in Washington shortly before Mr. Foxx was confirmed. While much of his speech centered on his accomplishments as transportation secretary and Mr. Foxx's future priorities, Mr. LaHood briefly touched on the recent dispute between Chrysler Group L.L.C. and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The auto maker initially refused to recall 2.7 million 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Jeep Libertys that the agency said had an increased fire risk when struck from behind. Chrysler later agreed to inspect the vehicles and install a trailer hitch assembly if necessary to "better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts."
Although NHSTA continues to investigate, Mr. LaHood said the department finds Chrysler's remedy to be sufficient.