When Florida congressman John Mica decided not to challenge Republican term limits on chairmanships, it set the stage for Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) to take the controls of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
With the commencement of the 113th Congress on January 3, Shuster was officially confirmed to the post once held by his dad, Rep. Bud Shuster. The younger Shuster was selected by the House Republican Conference on November 28 to become the new T&I chairman.
One of the largest committees in Congress, Transportation and Infrastructure currently has jurisdiction over all modes of transportation: aviation, maritime and waterborne transportation, roads, mass transit and railroads.
The committee also oversees clean water and waste water management, transport of resources by pipeline, flood damage reduction, economic development of depressed rural and urban areas, disaster preparedness and response, activities of the Army Corps of Engineers and the various missions of the Coast Guard.
Shuster has served on the full committee since coming to Congress in 2001. He previously served as chairman of the subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials and as chairman of the subcommittee on economic development, public buildings and emergency management.
Mica (R-Fla.) was up against GOP term limits, which specify that no member of Congress can spend more than six years as the highest-ranking party member on a committee, regardless of whether that time is spent as chair of the committee (while that member’s party is in the majority) or as ranking member (when in the minority).
Mica had been talking with House Speaker John Boehner about getting a waiver, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R- Wis.) did after losing the race for vice president, allowing him to stay at the helm of the Budget Committee. When a waiver appeared unlikely, Mica threw his support behind Shuster.
Mica, who has a reputation for tilting at windmills (such as the Transportation Security Administration), plans to remain on the Transportation Committee, with an eye to taking the chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in two years.
“In Bill Shuster, House Republicans have selected a strong conservative leader with a record of reform and a proven commitment to strengthening our nation’s infrastructure,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).