Rep. John Mica will surely be back to serve in the 113th Congress. Today he soundly defeated Republican challenger Sandy Adams to win the primary election in Florida’s 7th District. This victory was hard-fought because Mica – through a quirk of redistricting due to the 2010 census – was drawn into the same district as Republican freshman incumbent Adams. This rare incumbent vs. incumbent battle was expected to be close but, at the time of this writing with 80% of precincts reporting, Mica holds an insurmountable 60-40 lead.
So, as we always ask, what does it mean for the government property sector? To begin, it means that Mica will be back for his 11th term, now one of the Old Lions of Congress. He serves as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which ultimately oversees the U.S. General Services Administration. Under his watch, the House has relentlessly attacked GSA on lavish conference spending and ineffective disposal of surplus property. It has also adopted an activist role in the review and approval of prospectus resolutions, often chopping the size of lease requests and applying much tighter space utilization goals. Finally, Mica has doggedy pursued his one true passion project: to remove FTC from its historic headquarters and turn the building over to the National Gallery, pitting him in a standoff with GSA, which sees no financial justification for the transfer. With all of this in play, the friction between the House and GSA has grown red-hot.
However, even though Mica is likely to be back in Congress on January 3rd, he is unlikely to remain the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Republican term limits state that a Congressman may not lead a committee longer than three consecutive terms (6 years). Though Mica has only held the Chair in this past term, in the previous two terms he served as the Republican ranking member of the committee. So, at the end of this 112th Congress his time is up. That is, unless he can get a waiver, something he is reportedly seeking. Waivers to exceed these term limits are rarely granted but Republican leadership had been seriously considering an exception for Rep. Paul Ryan who is reaching the end of his term limit as chair of the House Budget Committee (though Ryan will be stumping as Romney’s V.P., Wisconsin law allows him to run for congressional re-election as well).
The overwhelming favorite to assume Mica’s Chair is Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). Shuster’s father, former congressman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) held the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair from 1995-2001, ultimately relinquishing his post, ironically, due to the term limit rule. Bill Shuster, a six-term Congressman, has the strong backing of Republican leadership and is the odds-on favorite to be the next Republican T&I Committee Chairman if Mica must step down.