The outgoing chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is making a final push before he retires to piece together a long-stalled infrastructure package before Congress adjourns.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has drawn interest from other members of his panel on a legislative proposal that could be produced this summer, a senior committee aide told Bloomberg Government May 22.
Shuster gathered committee Republicans for a meeting May 18 to get their ideas on what they’d like to see from a big-picture infrastructure proposal, subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) told Bloomberg Government.
The administration’s proposal to invest $200 billion in infrastructure to leverage, by the White House’s estimates, $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments has stalled in Congress.
Shuster, who is term-limited as chairman and retiring at the end of the year, is making his own push to put together a framework for addressing the nation’s infrastructure need. Graves said Shuster wanted members to think about “what big items do we need to be thinking about in the long run from our jurisdictional standpoint.”
Shuster confirmed that he is working on a proposal, but would not comment on specifics because it is in progress.
Graves said there wouldn’t be any movement on the package until after the August congressional break. “We’re not going to do anything unless we’re going actually to vote on it. We’re not going to waste time so we’re planning on bringing something,” Graves said.
Infrastructure Meets Congress
The administration released its infrastructure principles document in mid-February. By the first week of March House Speaker Paul Ryan had thrown cold water on the idea of a comprehensive infrastructure push in 2018, saying Republicans would break the president’s plan into multiple pieces of legislation instead. Progress would come in the form of must-pass items like the FAA bill and a water resources bill, he said.
The House passed the FAA bill in April; the Senate has not acted on its own bill. A House committee was scheduled to mark up its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) May 23; the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved its version of the bill May 22.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said May 16 the Transportation-HUD FY19 spending bill is the only game in town when it comes to infrastructure. “This is the infrastructure bill,” the subcommittee chairman told reporters after his committee markup.
The absence of a unified push led President Donald Trump to say his package would probably not happen this year.
Shuster, however, wants to leave a legacy on infrastructure, so he is working with his colleagues to put together the sort of proposal that could outlast his time in Congress, a committee aide told Bloomberg Government.