On a day when anger echoed elsewhere in the halls of Congress, and in a season when other White House appointees have faced a grilling, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx breezed through a Senate hearing on his nomination to replace U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Foxx told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday that he would continue LaHood’s crusade against distracted driving, look for creative ways to fund infrastructure and encourage the use of new technologies.
His testimony and reception provided an oasis of calm on Capitol Hill, where elsewhere House Republicans ripped into IRS officials, five nominees for the National Labor Relations Board had a raucous Senate hearing and testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke caused jitters on the stock market.
Add to that, on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) suggested that fellow Republican John McCain (Ariz.) was “bizarre.”
Foxx’s easy treatment may be a ray of sunshine for a White House that saw its nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, get roughed up by the same chamber in which he had recently served. Senate Republicans have threatened a filibuster if a floor vote is called to confirm Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Support for two Obama Cabinet nominees — Gina McCarthy for EPA administrator and Thomas E. Perez for labor secretary — broke along party lines in Senate committees last week. By contrast, Foxx wasn’t even asked particularly hard questions on policy or politically charged issues.
Responding to committee questions, Foxx said adding new highway tolls would not resolve shortfalls in transportation funding. “We’re not going to toll our way to prosperity,” Foxx said. “I don’t think it’s a complete solution to our transportation needs.”
Pressed by Cruz on how he would handle sequestration, Foxx said he would do his best. “I can’t guarantee that there will be painless reductions,” Foxx said.
On sequestration, Foxx warned that if it continues, “there probably will be pain. But I don’t go in the door looking for ways to cause pain.”