The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 4, 2012

Chairman Shuster

Hollidaysburg congressman heads powerful panel


The Tribune-Democrat

— U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster’s selection as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is welcome news.

It’s a feather in the cap for not only the Hollidaysburg Republican and his 9th district, but for our entire region.

His 11-county district includes portions of Cambria and Somerset.

Shuster has been in Washington only 11 years, but finds himself as head of one of the most powerful committees in Congress.

While most of us think about the panel’s work in tending to elements of transportation, including doling out federal dollars, it has oversight of areas including clean water and wastewater management, pipelines, flood damage reduction, economic development of depressed areas, disaster preparedness, and activities of the Army Corps of Engineers and various missions of the Coast Guard.

To put his selection in perspective, as reported by our Kathy Mellott, no Pennsylvania House member currently chairs a full committee, and Shuster’s elevation gives Pennsylvania its most influential voice in the U.S. House since Jack Murtha died in 2010.

Shuster’s dad, Bud, was a key House figure for many years and spent time in the top seat of the transportation committee. Among his many accomplishments locally, of course, was the U.S. 220/I-99 project through his district.

“I obviously thought about my father. I can call him at any time and ask his opinion,” he said of the man who represented the 9th district for three decades.

We further applaud young Shuster’s vision for his committee: “One of my goals is to get back to bipartisanship on the committee,” he said.

“There are no Democratic or Republican bridges, and I’m going to work very hard to reach across the aisle.”

That’s a message we would like to hear from more of our Capitol Hill leaders.

While we have never supported “pork barrel” projects, and we’re told such shenanigans no longer exist in D.C., we still know it doesn’t hurt to have a local politician in a powerful seat.

Pennsylvania’s highway and bridge problems have been well documented. We expect Shuster’s expertise in such areas will be valuable for state leaders.

Shuster says his challenges include finding money for completion of the final section of Route 219 south to Route 68 in Maryland, funding improvements to routes 81 and 95 elsewhere in the state, and updating waterways and airports. 

We congratulate Rep. Shuster for taking the reins of an important committee and we wish him success.

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