GOP Rep. Shuster won’t seek reelection

GOP Rep. Shuster won’t seek reelection
© Greg Nash

Rep. Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterHouse passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor This week: GOP faces make-or-break moment on immigration MORE (R-Pa.) will not seek reelection this year, becoming the fourth House Republican committee chairman to call it quits.

Like the other three chairmen, Shuster, who leads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was term-limited at the end of this Congress.

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House GOP conference rules limit chairmen to serving three consecutive two-year terms, meaning Shuster would have to relinquish the post he has held since 2013 after the end of this year.

Shuster, 56, represents a safe Republican district, but is now the latest in a growing line of lawmakers opting to pass on running for reelection in what’s expected to be a challenging midterm election year for the party.

Shuster told the Washington Examiner in an interview published on Tuesday that he wants to focus on working with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP lawmakers preparing to vote on bill allowing migrant children to be detained longer than 20 days: report Wasserman Schultz: Infants separated from their parents are in Florida immigrant shelters Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws MORE to pass an infrastructure bill in his final year in Congress.

“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.

The other three chairmen to announce their retirements are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration House still plans immigration vote next week despite Trump's tweet MORE (R-Va.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump floats tariffs on European cars | Nikki Haley slams UN report on US poverty | Will tax law help GOP? It's a mystery On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump nominates budget official Kraninger for consumer chief | Senate votes to block Trump ZTE deal | Stocks fall on trade tensions | House panel moves to markup budget MORE (R-Texas) and House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithLawmakers scold NASA for cost overruns Big Tobacco’s smoke and mirrors revived by Pruitt’s science transparency policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights MORE (R-Texas).

Ex-Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself MORE (R-Utah) also stepped down last year to take a position at Fox News, although he could have kept serving as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman through 2020 under the term limit rules.

Shuster told the Washington Examiner that he has been working with the Trump administration for months on an infrastructure plan, noting that he recently met with the president at the White House.

“He’s very excited. He seems to be ready to go, as we are, and so I think we’re going to have a good working relationship as we move forward,” Shuster said.

“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.”

Shuster has also been pushing legislation to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic control system to a nonprofit corporation, but it has stalled in the House despite support from Trump.

Shuster first won election to the House in 2001, replacing his father, Bud Shuster, a Republican who also served as chairman of the House Transportation Committee. 

The district in western Pennsylvania has been held by members of the Shuster family since 1973. It’s likely to remain in the GOP column, given that Trump won the district handily in 2016.

Shuster’s 2016 reelection campaign was dogged by ethics questions about his relationship with a top airline lobbyist while leading the Transportation Committee and pushing his air traffic control legislation.

Shuster narrowly defeated a primary challenger, Art Halvorson, who then ran against him in the general election as a Democrat. Halvorson announced on Tuesday that he will run for the seat again this year.

Under Shuster, the Transportation Committee produced a five-year highway bill to fund transit projects, an accomplishment that had eluded lawmakers for years as they repeatedly passed short-term transportation spending patches. Until then-President Obama signed the legislation in 2015, Congress had not passed a highway bill lasting longer than two years since 2005.

Shuster had maintained as recently as November that he planned to stay in Congress despite having to give up the Transportation gavel, telling The Hill at the time that he had ambitions on the House Armed Services Committee.

“My intention is to stick around. I’ve got some other opportunities. I’m pretty senior on the Armed Services Committee,” Shuster said. “[Chairman] Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberrySenate passes 6B defense bill Senate braces for Trump showdown over Chinese telecom giant Trump rattles Pentagon with Korea war games decision MORE [R-Texas] has another term, but I’m on the top prong there, and I’ve demonstrated that I can get things done.”

Nearly twice as many House seats currently held by Republicans will be up for grabs in 2018 so far, compared to Democrats. More retirement announcements could emerge in the coming days as lawmakers return to Washington after spending the holidays at home.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate panel to hold hearing next week for Trump IRS nominee On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs MORE (R-Utah), another powerful committee chairman, announced within the same hour as the Washington Examiner interview published on Tuesday that he would not seek reelection this year either.

House GOP lawmakers have been outpacing their Democratic counterparts in deciding to leave Congress at the end of this year, which Republicans acknowledge doesn’t help their prospects for keeping the majority.

Fifteen Democratic-held seats will be open in 2018, due to eight House Democrats running for other office, six retirements and the resignation of former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersPortland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan MORE Jr. (D-Mich.).

By comparison, Republicans will have to grapple with at least 28 open seats this year.

Two Republicans who resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct, Reps. Tim MurphyTim MurphySaccone loses GOP primary comeback bid in Pa. Nearly half of voters hope for Dems to win majority in 2018: poll GOP Rep. Dent will leave Congress in May MORE (Pa.) and Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ariz.), will be replaced in special elections by midyear. Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiThe Hill's Morning Report — 'Sobering' IG report damages FBI Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Poll shows tight race to replace Tiberi in Ohio MORE (R-Ohio) is also expected to step down by the end of January to take a position at the Ohio Business Roundtable, which is likely to prompt a third special election.

Ten House Republicans are running for other office, while 15 others have said they will retire.

The retirements include three lawmakers — Reps. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus Kihuen BernalDanny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary Laxalt, Sisolak to face off in Nevada governor's race Two former Nevada congressmen set for rematch MORE (D-Nev.), Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonUnending Pruitt controversies leave Republicans frustrated Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data Lawmakers roll out bill to protect children from online data collection MORE (R-Texas) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas) — who announced under pressure over sexual misconduct allegations that they will serve out the rest of their terms but won’t seek reelection.