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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
Mayor Anthony Foxx was questioned Wednesday on his experience leading Charlotte and how he would fund future transporation projects amid a tight budget environment if he was confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Foxx gathered before a crowded room of Senators and media at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
The hearing, which started around 2:30 p.m., began with opening remarks from North Carolina Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr.
The list of senators who are questionsing Foxx include South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. No North Carolina senators are on the list.
"We need to take a hard look at what we need from our ports, rail, air and highway systems over the long term and commit to making the appropriate investments," said Sen. John Rockefeller, the committee chair, in his opening remarks. "We must get away from overly siloed, programmatic funding mechanisms that don't allow for the flexibility necessary to make strategic, multi-modal investments."
In his opening statement, Foxx said that he wants to continue taking a more multimodal approach to transportation, much like his predecessor, Secretary Ray LaHood has.
Questions from senators questioned Foxx on his leadership style, how he goes about finding money to fund projects and how he would ease national mobility challenges.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, asked Mayor Foxx about tolling Interstate 95.
"Tolling is not a complete solution to dealing with our transportation funding issues," Foxx said.
Several senators also asked the mayor about creating a federal infrastructure bank to help fund big transportation project.
Foxx said he is interested in exploring the idea as "infrastructure projects can be catalyst for other things such as economic development."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, asked Foxx if he intended to cut waste, fraud and abuse out of the agency's budget.
"I cannot guarantee you that there will be painless choices," Foxx said. "I think there is broad agreement that we want to streamline several processes."
Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, head of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced last week that the hearing would be held on Wednesday.
Foxx met with several members of the committee ahead of the hearings in Washington last week.
President Obama nominated Foxx to head the DOT in April. The president highlighted Foxx's background on building out the transit system here in Charlotte with the Lynx Blue Line and the start of work on the city's east-west streetcar line.
If the committee passes a recommendation, then Foxx must clear 60 votes in the full Senate to be confirmed to the position.
The committee is expected to vote on the nomination in June.