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Obama nominates new transportation secretary

US President Barack Obama announces Anthony Foxx (L) as the nominee for Secretary of Transportation on April 29, 2013
US President Barack Obama announces Anthony Foxx (L) as the nominee for Secretary of Transportation alongside outgoing secretary Ray LaHood (R) in Washington, on April 29, 2013.

US President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Anthony Foxx, the African-American mayor of the booming North Carolina city of Charlotte as his new transportation secretary.

Foxx, if confirmed by the Senate, will take over from current transport supremo Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman, who is retiring.

"When Anthony became mayor in 2009, Charlotte, like the rest of the country, was going through a bruising economic crisis," Obama said at the White House.

"But the city's managed to turn things around. The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity.

"One of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city's history."

Obama noted Charlotte's new electric tram service and fast growing international airport, which he said had helped create jobs and had made Charlotte more attractive to business investors.

The president's ambitious plans to stimulate the economy by investing in high speed rail, airports and other transportation projects have had a rough ride from Republican fiscal hawks in Congress.

"Congress has to step up, fund these projects. They need to do it right away. We need to modernize the infrastructure that powers our economy," Obama said.

"We need more high-speed rail and Internet and high-tech schools and self-healing power grids and bridges and tunnels and ports."

Charlotte hosted last year's Democratic National Convention, and although Obama lost North Carolina in 2012 after narrowly winning it in 2008, the state, a traditional Republican bastion, is becoming increasingly fertile ground for Democrats.

Obama had been criticized earlier this year for not introducing sufficient diversity into his second term cabinet, after he gave the top jobs at the State Department, Pentagon and the Treasury to middle-aged white males.

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