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Congress last year passed a two-year, $105 billion highway and transit bill known as MAP-21, nearly three years after its predecessor expired. Congressional lawmakers and Mr. Obama have been loath to pay for transportation programs by raising the federal gas tax, which was last increased in 1993 to 18.4 cents per gallon.

Bipartisan message

If confirmed, Mr. Foxx would be the first black person to fill a Cabinet vacancy in Mr. Obama’s second term. With congressional Republicans holding the key to many of the Transportation Department initiatives, the Democratic nominee tried to strike a bipartisan note Monday.

“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system,” said Mr. Foxx, whom some see as a rising star in the party. “We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.”

Mr. Foxx is credited with championing an extension of Charlotte’s light-rail system to the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus, but his proposed $119 million downtown streetcar project is mired in funding battles.