President Obama is set today to nominate Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx, a man who is in process of bringing electrified street cars to his city, as the new Secretary of Transportation.

As head of the Department of Transportation, Foxx, if confirmed, will inherit from predecessor Ray LaHood the problem of a crumbling transportation infrastructure that Congress has been unwilling to restore through adequate appropriations.

Foxx would become the third African American in Obama's Cabinet, joining Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx would take over a department that has been at the center of Washington's debate over the impact of the sequester cuts. The automatic cuts resulted in furloughs for air traffic controllers that helped cause delays at many airports.

Congress reached a deal last week to provide the Transportation Department flexibility that allowed it to end the air traffic controller furloughs.

Foxx is a proponent of the Federal government supporting light rail mass transit for cities. This is a thorny point with the Republican led House, which has been against Washington funding for such projects as a measure of overall cost-cutting.

As head of DOT, Foxx will also have oversight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which handles automobile recalls and safety ratings.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who studies federal nominations, told The Charlotte Observer he didn't expect Foxx to have a difficult nomination process. As a mayor, Tobias told the paper, Foxx has less baggage than he would as a Congressman.

"Sometimes it's better not to be in the Washington morass," Tobias told The Observer. "He has a different perspective. He has the perspective as a mayor from a progressive state. And that's valuable."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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