by Sarah Braker, senior communications manager
As of January 15, three U.S. Senators and 43 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have announced their retirement from office. All plan to leave Capitol Hill by the end of 2018. One of those representatives is Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Under House Republican rules, a representative can only be chair of a committee for six years. Shuster will hit that mark at the end of this year. A new committee chair means a new principal decision-maker on issues that will impact transportation by bike and the bicycle industry.
During the last six years, PeopleForBikes has worked closely with Shuster and his staff to make sure that the voice of the bike industry was heard in Congress. We are grateful to Chairman Shuster for his support of federal bike project funding and for taking the time to meet with bike industry representatives during PeopleForBikes executive fly-ins.
Shuster, a representative from Pennsylvania’s Ninth Congressional District (located in the southwest section of the state), was first elected in 2000. He has served on the T&I Committee for his entire tenure in office. He was the committee chair when Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) Act in 2015—the most recent surface transportation authorization bill. The FAST Act reauthorized the key programs that enable cities to plan and build bike projects. Passing this bill could not have happened without Shuster’s support, and it makes possible an $850 million annual investment in bicycling and walking that benefits the bike industry and improves communities.
Despite intense polarization in Congress, under Chairman Shuster’s leadership the T&I Committee continued to operate as a bipartisan group. Recently he expressed an openess to increasing the gas tax to restore the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which is projected to run out of funding in fiscal year 2021. (The Trust Fund was established in 1956 to finance roads in the U.S. including the interstate highway system.)
In announcing his retirement, Shuster indicated that he will work this year to help pass an infrastructure package. He said in a statement that he is committed to “focusing 100 percent on working with President Trump and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in both chambers to pass a much needed infrastructure bill to rebuild America.”
PeopleForBikes thanks Chairman Shuster for his leadership during the last six years. We also look forward to working closely with the next House T&I committee chair.