WASHINGTON — Rep. Bill Shuster appears to have a lock on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairmanship after receiving the blessing of current chair, Rep. John Mica, this week.
Although Mica, a Republican from Florida, won his reelection bid and will serve in the next Congress, Republican rules limiting time as either a committee chairman or ranking minority member will force him to step down.
Mica had announced his intention to seek a waiver from the rule, but transportation experts have said House leaders would not grant him one and wanted Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania. Mica abandoned the waiver idea in a letter sent Monday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, endorsing Shuster for the job.
“As you consider filling positions, I want to urge your consideration of Mr. Bill Shuster to lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” Mica wrote. “Bill has served in two subcommittee leadership positions and has both the experience and ability to assume this important position for our conference.”
Shuster formally announced his candidacy for the position earlier this month, but industry lobbyists have long considered him a likely choice to take the helm. His father, Bud Shuster, led the committee from 1995 to 2001.
If he becomes chairman, Shuster will take responsibility for leading House Republican efforts to develop and pass a multi-year surface transportation funding bill, a task that proved taxing for Mica this past year, with the enactment of a two-year bill that failed to resolve long-term transportation funding issues. That bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2014.
Shuster has said he would look at all available options to keep federal transportation programs funded, including changes to the gas tax.