Without a waiver, another Shuster could be in line to steer the committee. That, of course, is dependent on the GOP’s holding on to the majority in the next term.
It also depends on the 34-member House Republican Steering Committee, which is responsible for committee assignments. Bill Shuster is on that committee, and he appears to be in the good graces of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio), who controls four votes on the steering committee.
“He seems to enjoy a good relationship with John Boehner, and I think John Boehner looks to him for his advice on transportation issues,” said Delaware County Republican Pat Meehan, who also serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Brendan Buck, spokesman for Boehner, said Thursday he could not speculate on decisions that are months away.
Committee members and staffers in other Republican offices said they wouldn’t be surprised to see the six-term Pennsylvania representative land the post. “From the get-go, even as a new member of Congress, he has always been very, very engaged on transportation issues, and I’m sure his dad’s work rubbed off,” said one GOP aide, who asked not to be identified.
Bud Shuster, who became a transportation lobbyist after leaving Congress, is rooting for his son.
“There are several guys senior to him, and yet all the money seems to be on him,” the elder Shuster said. “I’m thrilled that Bill has been doing so well.”
Bill Shuster, who was not available for comment Friday, is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on railroads, pipelines, and hazardous materials and also has led the subcommittee on economic development, public buildings, energy, and management.
“Bill Shuster understands transportation issues intimately, and he has earned the respect of colleagues,” Meehan said. “He’s an energetic guy, and he digs into the issues.”
Ascension would make him the highest-ranking Pennsylvanian in Congress and the first member from the state to chair a congressional committee since his father resigned in 2001.
Pennsylvania has lost a lot of its pull in Washington since 1996, when its representatives controlled four of the House’s 21 committees, including transportation.
“Years ago, Pennsylvania was a powerful state because of those chairmen. We don’t have that now, and we know Pennsylvania ranks worst in the nation in terms of the number of roads and bridges in need of repair,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.). “It would be good to have someone chairing the committee who understand the roads, the sewers, the bridges, the locks, the dams, the pipelines, and everything.”
If Shuster gets the post, his challenges will be different from the ones his father faced. The elder served before earmarks were banned and before the drilling of expansive natural gas reserves that are spurring changes in the nation’s energy-delivery infrastructure.
One of Shuster’s major transportation initiatives is a new law increasing civil penalties for irresponsible operators of pipelines carrying oil, natural gas, or hazardous liquids. The penalties provide another incentive for operators to properly mark pipelines and comply with safety standards.
Shuster also has been a proponent of legislation that would increase private-sector rail service, creating competition for Amtrak.
Contact Tracie Mauriello at 703-996-9292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.