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.

About this series

"Energy Scions" looks at members of Congress who work on energy and environmental issues – and whose political families influenced their thinking.



Name is hard to pronounce, but reputation is unmistakable

What's in a name? Quite a lot if no one can pronounce it and you're running for office.

Few knew that better than the late Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas, a centrist Democrat and ardent environmentalist. When he first ran for the House of Representatives in 1974, his Greek name was a challenge with voters in his northeastern Massachusetts district -- so much so that then-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) mentioned it as part of a floor speech honoring Tsongas on the 10-year anniversary of his death.


Powerbroker forges her own identity while mindful of 80-year Dingell legacy

When Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell discuses environmental issues, she walks a fine line.

On one side, the Democrat heaps praise on the legacy of her husband, former Rep. John Dingell (D), a conservationist who played a major role on several of the country's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act, during his nearly 60 years in the House.

On the other, she emphasizes that the environment has played a defining role in her life from childhood, well before she met John. Debbie Dingell grew up in St. Clair, a small town in southeast Michigan along a river bearing the same name.


A husband's legacy passed on to his wife -- and maybe, eventually, his daughter

Four decades ago, 80,000 barrels of oil blanketed the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of California, galvanizing a growing environmental movement and inspiring the first Earth Day. Lois Capps was 31 years old, the mother of young children who watched with her as the oil devastated the ocean near their home. The experience left her -- and the community she would later represent in Congress -- particularly sensitive to the consequences of offshore oil drilling. Capps is retiring at the end of 2016. Before then, she is tackling what could be her last major issue: another oil spill off Santa Barbara, this time from an on-land pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline.


'Transit clout king' passes on purpose, if not political practice, to his son

Although he grew up as the son of a Chicago alderman and 11-term congressman, it was the plight of dolphins that sparked Daniel Lipinski's interest in politics.

"I always say my first political activism was probably in fifth grade with a friend in seventh grade, and we put together a petition to the Japanese government to ask them to stop their fishermen, to stop killing dolphins when fishing for tuna," said Lipinski, a five-term Democratic representative from Illinois' 3rd District.


Inspired by his environmentalist father, senator faces dramatically different landscape

In his eight years as Interior secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Stewart Udall would oversee the establishment of four national parks; six national monuments; more than 50 wildlife refuges; and a number of national seashores, historic sites and recreation areas. However, the fruits of Udall's conservation legacy are in jeopardy. Udall's eldest son, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), today stands at the center of challenges by fiscal conservatives to his father's achievements as the top Democrat on the panel that funds the National Park Service and the other federal lands agencies.