Add Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, to the list of Republicans who won't be seeking re-election in November. He said instead he'll focus exclusively on working with President Trump to pass his massive infrastructure bill in 2018.
Shuster, who has held his seat since 2002, told the Washington Examiner that he feared campaigning would get in the way of help the president pass the legislation. He's eliminating that possibility by retiring.
“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.
It's a monumental decision. Before Shuster was the chairmans at transportation, his father, former Rep. Bud Shuster, held the position. Between them, they've held the seat since 1973.
It was a very difficult decision because," he said, "it came down to deep love for this country and the people that I serve … so it was a difficult decision to make to say that you're not going to seek election."
It's an end to an era for Pennsylvania politics, but Shuster hopes to make an impact before he leaves. President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are meeting at Camp David this weekend to work out their 2018 agenda. A big infrastructure bill is expected to be top of the agenda, and Trump is expected to lay out the plan during his first State of the Union address in January.
Shuster, who did not tell Trump or Ryan of his decision to leave Capitol Hill until Tuesday afternoon, says he'll be deeply involved with the bill.
“My staff and myself have been in constant communication, consistent communication for the last several months with his team, just focused on this,” Shuster said.
He added, “About a week or so ago I had a private meeting with the president at the White House. Now when I say private meeting, it was the president and I in the Oval Office with his senior advisers and some of my senior people, and we talked about the infrastructure bill. 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."
“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, 57, represented Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District, which spans rural and postindustrial western Pennsylvania. The seat is expected to remain in Republicans. Currently, Republicans hold 13 of the 18 House seats in Pennsylvania. Shuster is the fourth incumbent Republican to decide against seeking re-election, along with Rep. Dent and Rep. Tim Murphy.
Shuster's father, Former Rep. Bud Shuster, commented on his son's retirement. The 85-year-old didn't seem concerned that his song was relinquishing the seat his family had held since 1973.
“Before he leaves, he will be there to help bring people together for this important infrastructure package. It is important that lawmakers on both sides work together to make this happen for the country,” Bud Shuster told the Washington Examiner.
Bill Shuster said he doesn't have his next move all planned out. However, he's clearly at peace with his decision.
“I do not know at this point what I will be doing," he said, adding "I do know that I will not be a member of Congress, and my heart will be happy, and I'll have a great sense of accomplishment of what I've been able to do over the years.
He continued, "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.”