Shuster follows route first steered by his dad
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) likes to call himself an "SOB."
As in "Son of Bud."
That proudly advertised filial bond with retired Rep. Bud Shuster has shaped the younger man's career, from his initial 2001 run for Congress to his 2013 ascent to the chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. When Bill Shuster surveys the committee's hearing room from the center dais, he sees the magisterial portrait of his father, who headed the same panel two decades ago, on the facing wall.
But as Bill Shuster often volunteers, this is not his dad's Congress. "Back in the day, you could be a power player," he said in a brief interview last month. "Now you've got to be a finesse player."
While credited with restoring a more bipartisan style to the committee and helping to pass a major water projects bill last year, Bill Shuster has also found himself beset by forces unknown to his father. During the flush times of the late 1990s, for example, Bud Shuster engineered budget changes that boosted highway spending by billions of dollars.
With money far tighter nowadays, his son is caught in a struggle simply to maintain the status quo. When the House returns from its summer break next month, he'll be playing catch-up after the Senate recently pushed through a three-year road and transit funding bill. While his father voted for at least one gas tax hike -- a 5-cent-per-gallon boost enacted in 1982 under President Reagan -- Bill Shuster belongs to a GOP leadership team that has ruled out any increase in the fuel levies that undergird the federal transportation financing system.