Chairman Shuster – It Has a Familiar Ring

U.S. Representative Bill Shuster (left) visits a port in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), like his father before him, will be the Chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in the 113th Congress.

If you have ever driven through the middle of Pennsylvania on I-99, the Bud Shuster Highway, then you have no doubt about this family’s connection to transportation.

However, the legacy of the former Chairman and the passion of the incoming Chairman go well beyond highways.

Former Chairman Bud Shuster helped guide several key pieces of legislation that set the foundation for multi-modalism in our transportation policy. He was able to pass these key pieces of legislation through deft negotiating and reaching across party lines to work with Democrats to pass bi-partisan legislation that improved policies and increased overall funding.

The incoming Chair hopes to take the Committee back in time and once again work across party lines to solve our nation’s transportation funding woes. Since being named Chairman, Congressman Bill Shuster has reached out to his Democratic counterpart, Nick Rahall (D-WV), to begin discussions on the Committee’s work next year. This is a welcome sign and many hope that the Committee will return to its roots as the most bi-partisan Committee on the Hill.

This is no means a swipe at former Chairman John Mica (R-FL), who was given the Herculean task of passing a surface transportation bill that would both satisfy the Tea Party and build a bridge with Democratics. For much of the critique Chairman Mica faced, it should be noted that he was able to pass a surface transportation bill and pass a Federal Aviation bill that had been stalled for much longer then the surface transportation bill.

Chairman Bill Shuster is bringing with him a qualified and veteran staff:

  • Chris Bertram has been named director of the full committee. This is his second stint in Congress and he has dedicated much of his career to transportation and is widely respected across the board.
  • Similar things can be said of Jim Tymon and Jennifer Hall, who will once again be back in charge of the surface transportation bill.
  • Stephen Martinko will also be joining the Committee. He has played a critical role over the past several years in the formulation of the rail and surface transportation bill as Bill Shuster’s legislative director and is seen as a welcome addition to the Committee staff.

The tasks at hand are clear: Find a way to make solvent the highway trust fund and figure out how we finance our transportation system.

Bill Shuster may just be the right man at the right time to help make that happen. He stated that he is open to any and all solutions – including an increase in the gas tax – and that he will work both sides of the aisle to make it happen. At this stage, there is little else anyone can ask for.

One thing is for sure: Like his father before him, if there is a deal to be made to make it happen, Bill Shuster will find it.

Photo by NashvilleCorps

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