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Rep. Shuster gets nod as next House T&I Committee Chairman

By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor and Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 29, 2012

In a widely expected move, Representative Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) was named to the next Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the 113th Congress by the House Republican Conference.

Shuster will take over the reins from Representative John Mica (R-Fla.), whom has served as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman since January 2011. Mica has hit his caucus term limit as chairman.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is comprised of various subcommittees covering various aspects of transportation and infrastructure, including: aviation; Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management; Highways and Transit; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Water Resources and Environment.

Shuster has long been involved with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, having served on it since 2001 and was previously the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. Shuster will be “Chairman-elect” until the start of the 113th Congress in January.

“Transportation issues are among the most critical that we face in Congress and as a nation,” Shuster said in a statement. “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that supports economic growth and global competitiveness. Working together in the 113th Congress, the Committee will focus on strengthening America’s transportation networks to make us more efficient, more competitive, and more prosperous. I look forward to continuing to work to reform programs, focus our resources where they are needed most, restore regulatory balance, and better manage our federal assets.”

Serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is a family affair for the Shuster family. Bill Shuster’s father, Bud Shuster, a retired Pennsylvania Representative, served as chairman of the committee from 1995-2001. 

Shuster’s tenure as Chairman, which will take effect in January when the next session of Congress commences, is more than likely to have a full plate of issues to tackle, including transportation infrastructure and how to fund it, which is very likely at the top of the to-do list.

Shuster told reporters on Nov. 8 that making the financially strapped Highway Trust Fund solvent in the long term was a “priority” and also indicated that everything was on the financial table—including raising fuel taxes, which have not been raised in nearly 20 years.
 
And the next few weeks, which also include a seven-week lame duck session of the do-nothing 112th Congress, will likely see massive attempts at horse-trading with nearly everything on the table, Shuster indicated.
 
“I believe there’s going to be some large-scale negotiations taking place, not only in the lame duck but then into the next year,” said Shuster.

Not to be overlooked, of course, is the “Fiscal Cliff,” the pending combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, which is front and center when it comes to how federal spending and investments of all kinds will be allocated and approached.

Leslie Blakey, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition of America’s Gateways and Corridors, said that it still remains to be seen what issues the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will take up until the Fiscal Cliff issue is fully addressed by Congress and the White House.

“One of the things Congress and the White House should be considering is to seriously consider the gas tax in a way that does not negatively impact the economy by perhaps being done in small increments over the next year or two,” she said. “That could have a positive impact on transportation infrastructure and freight infrastructure-related spending.”

Shuster, said Blakey, has demonstrated leadership and enormous knowledge coming from a transportation-based background and said he is an “excellent choice,” adding that she hopes Mica remains on the committee and involved in its leadership, too.

She also pointed out that Shuster’s home state of Pennsylvania is a major freight hub state, with both brown water and blue water ports, strategic value in moving freight from the Northeast corridor and east-west to Chicago.

Mike Regan, president and chairman of the board at TranzAct Technologies, echoed Blakey in endorsing Shuster.

“He is a great choice that is spot on,” said Regan. “He is a longstanding member of the Committee and has a thorough understanding of transportation infrastructure issues and will bring an experienced and seasoned approach to the position.”

 

About the Author

John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor and Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

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