House Transportation chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end his congressional term to focus on passing a massive infrastructure package with President Donald Trump.
Shuster told the Washington Examiner that he does not want the 2018 midterm election to distract him from passing an infrastructure package.
“I thought it was the best decision for me to focus 100 percent on my final year as the chairman of the Transportation Committee, working with the president and other Democrats and Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill, which is much needed to rebuild America,” Shuster said.
Rep. Shuster’s announcement comes as President Trump plans to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan this weekend at Camp David to discuss their 2018 agenda, which includes infrastructure at the forefront.
Shuster also said he believes the forty-fifth president will lead the way on infrastructure.
Chairman Shuster explained, “This is a president who really understands how to build things, how to finance things, and how to get them done on time and under budget. It’s an exciting time to be the chairman of the committee, so I didn’t want to take my eye off the ball at all.”
Rep. Shuster served as the chairman of the House Transportation Committee for the last five years; however, he would have had to relinquish his chairmanship at the end of the term due to House rules that limit committee leadership to three consecutive terms.
The Pennsylvania congressman said that one of his greatest legislative disappointments was his inability to reform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“The disappointments, I’ve got tell you that, legislatively, so far, a disappointment for me, but it ain’t over yet, is reforming the [Federal Aviation Administration]. I believe that the air traffic control operation is something that doesn’t need to be in government,” Shuster told the Washington Examiner, then stated that “it can be done much better outside of government.” He added, “I’ve been working for the last three years on this. It’s a big reform. It’s transformational to take 35,000 workers out of government, put them outside into the private sector. It’s something that, well, I don’t believe we’ve ever done in that number in one agency.”
“Who knows? We’ll wait and see what happens,” Shuster continued, suggesting that FAA reform should be included in the infrastructure package.
Congressman Shuster’s FAA bill, the 21st Century AIRR Act, would create an independent nonprofit organization to manage air traffic control, which would be governed by a board represented by the air traffic controllers, pilots union, the transportation secretary, as well as figures from the airline companies. The nonprofit would be funded through airline user fees.
Rep. Shuster concluded, “I can tell you, I’m having peace with my decision. In January 2018, I’m going to be going a hundred miles an hour working with President Trump and my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate, to cobble together, to put together, an infrastructure bill to rebuild America.”