GOP Rep. Shuster won’t seek reelection

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

Rep. Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterExiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on water infrastructure bill 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 TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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 GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE (R-Va.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingThe next two years of federal housing policy could be positive under Mark Calabria Why Ocasio-Cortez should make flood insurance reform a priority Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Texas) and House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithComstock joins K Street firm Congress can stop the war on science Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Texas).

Ex-Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTop Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ Boehner working on memoir: report Former GOP lawmaker on death of 7-year-old migrant girl: Message should be ‘don't make this journey, it will kill you' 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 ThornberryOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents 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 HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown 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 ConyersDemocrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message Women's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC 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 MurphyPennsylvania New Members 2019 Poll: Lamb has double-digit lead in Pennsylvania House race Jordan weathering political storm, but headwinds remain MORE (Pa.) and Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (Ariz.), will be replaced in special elections by midyear. Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat 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 KihuenNevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Pence aide defends Meadows after ethics panel reprimand: He ‘had my back’ MORE (D-Nev.), Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonGOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) and Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdLawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid Former Texas lawmaker Blake Farenthold resigns from lobbying job Congress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk 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.