With the election upon us, we have begun to take a look at a few of the people we expect to take on new leadership roles in the 113th Congress. Today, we focus on Representative William “Bill” Shuster (R-Pa.), who—if the Republicans maintain control of the House on Tuesday (November 6)—is expected to be the next chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He currently chairs the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.
Shuster has represented Pennsylvania’s Ninth District since 2001, when he won a special election held upon the resignation of his father, Elmer “Bud” Shuster. (The elder Shuster, who had held the seat since 1973, chaired the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 1995 until his resignation.) Prior to entering Congress, Bill Shuster owned an automobile dealership in East Freedom, Pa.; before that, he worked for several tire companies and on the family farm. He was born in McKeesport, Pa., on January 10, 1961, and earned a B.A. in political science and history from Dickinson College and an MBA from American University. He is considered a moderate Republican though, according to OpenCongress.org he has voted with his party 94% of the time (and abstained 2%). He is a shoe-in to be re-elected for a sixth term; he faces no Democratic opponent, and has outraised his Independent opponent, Karen Ramsburg, by more than 100 to 1.
Shuster thus is set to succeed Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), current chair of the committee, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s public buildings, roads, highways, railroads, bridges, dams, water, and skies. It is, of course, the “public buildings” area that interests us most and, frankly, Rep. Shuster’s record in the T&I Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management is pretty thin, especially as it relates to real property issues. We do know, however, that he is a co-sponsor (along with 30 other co-sponsors) of the Civilian Property Realignment Act and, therefore, we must assume that he supports the various tenets of that broad-reaching legislation, which include the formation of a BRAC-style process for property dispositions, the elimination of leasing authority for most independent agencies and a push to reduce the federal leased space inventory.
From the Chair, Rep. Mica has taken an active role in federal real property issues, including his “Stop Sitting On Our Assets” campaign to dispose of underutilized properties, his active role in downsizing GSA’s prospectus requests and his aggressive investigation into GSA’s conference and bonus spending. His (so far) unsuccessful effort to transfer the FTC headquarters to the National Gallery is a campaign he waged through his entire chairmanship. By contrast, Shuster appears to support the various efforts of the public buildings subcommittee but he has not revealed his ardor for any particular real property issue. As Chairman, the various challenges mounting within the federal inventory will certainly be unavoidable.